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Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937), a prolific and problematic 
writer, is often considered one of the greatest authors of early American horror, science- 
fiction, and "weird" fiction. His stories echo such great horror and fantasy authors as Poe, 
Dunsany, and Chambers. But Lovecraft also brought to his writing a "cosmic horror," which 
sprang out of his fantasies and nightmares. 

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft contams all Lovecraft's solo writings as an adult, 
beginning in 1917 with "The Tomb" and ending in 1935 with "The Haunter of the Dark." His 
collaborative works and revisions are not included. 

Table of Contents 

Preface 2 

The Tomb 5 

Dagon 12 

Polaris 16 

Beyond the Wall of Sleep 19 

Memory 26 

Old Bugs 27 

The Transition of Juan Romero 32 

The White Ship 37 

The Doom That Came to Sarnath 41 

The Statement of Randolph Carter 45 

The Terrible Old Man 49 

The Tree 51 

The Cats of Ulthar 54 

The Temple 56 

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family 64 

The Street 70 

Celephais 74 

From Beyond 78 

Nyarlathotep 83 

The Picture in the House 85 

Ex Oblivione 90 

The Nameless City 92 

The Quest of Iranon 100 

The Moon-Bog 104 

The Outsider 109 

The Other Gods 113 

The Music of Erich Zann 1 1 6 

Herbert West — Reanimator 121 

Hypnos 139 

What the Moon Brings 144 

Azathoth 146 

The Hound 147 

The Lurking Fear 152 

The Rats in the Walls 165 

The Unnamable 177 

The Festival 182 

The Shunned House 188 

The Horror at Red Hook 204 

He 217 

In the Vault 224 

The Descendant 229 

Cool Air 232 

The Call of Cthulhu 238 

Pickman's Model 256 

The Silver Key 264 

The Strange High House in the Mist 272 

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 278 

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward 338 

The Colour Out of Space 414 

The Very Old Folk 431 

The Thing in the Moonlight 435 

The History of the Necronomicon 437 

Ibid 439 

The Dunwich Horror 442 

The Whisperer in Darkness 469 

At the Mountains of Madness 510 

The Shadow Over Innsmouth 572 

The Dreams in the Witch House 612 

The Thing on the Doorstep 634 

The Evil Clergyman 651 

The Book 654 

The Shadow Out of Time 656 

The Haunter of the Dark 694 

The Tomb 


In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the 
demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity 
of my narrative. It Is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of humanity is too limited in its mental 
vision to weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated phenomena, seen and felt only 
by a psychologically sensitive few, which lie outside Its common experience. IVIen of broader 
Intellect know that there Is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things 
appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate Individual physical and mental media through 
which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns 
as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious 

My name Is Jervas Dudley, and from earliest childhood I have been a dreamer and a 
visionary. Wealthy beyond the necessity of a commercial life, and temperamentally unfitted for 
the formal studies and social recreations of my acquaintances, I have dwelt ever In realms 
apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little-known 
books, and In roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not 
think that what I read In these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other 
boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm 
those cruel slanders upon my Intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the 
stealthy attendants around me. It Is sufficient for me to relate events without analysing 

I have said that I dwelt apart from the visible world, but I have not said that I dwelt alone. This 
no human creature may do; for lacking the fellowship of the living, he inevitably draws upon 
the companionship of things that are not, or are no longer, living. Close by my home there lies 
a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, 
and dreaming. Down Its moss-covered slopes my first steps of Infancy were taken, and 
around Its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I 
come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances 
in the struggling beams of a waning moon — but of these things I must not now speak. I will tell 
only of the lone tomb In the darkest of the hillside thickets; the deserted tomb of the Hydes, an 
old and exalted family whose last direct descendant had been laid within Its black recesses 
many decades before my birth. 

The vault to which I refer Is of ancient granite, weathered and discoloured by the mists and 
dampness of generations. Excavated back into the hillside, the structure is visible only at the 
entrance. The door, a ponderous and forbidding slab of stone, hangs upon rusted iron hinges, 
and Is fastened ajar 'm a queerly sinister way by means of heavy Iron chains and padlocks, 
according to a gruesome fashion of half a century ago. The abode of the race whose scions 
are here inurned had once crowned the declivity which holds the tomb, but had long since 
fallen victim to the flames which sprang up from a disastrous stroke of lightning. Of the 
midnight storm which destroyed this gloomy mansion, the older Inhabitants of the region 
sometimes speak In hushed and uneasy voices; alluding to what they call "divine wrath" In a 
manner that In later years vaguely Increased the always strong fascination which I felt for the 
forest-darkened sepulchre. One man only had perished In the fire. When the last of the Hydes 
was burled In this place of shade and stillness, the sad urnful of ashes had come from a 

distant land; to which the family had repaired when the mansion burned down. No one 
remains to lay flowers before the granite portal, and few care to brave the depressing 
shadows which seem to linger strangely about the water-worn stones. 

I shall never forget the afternoon when first I stumbled upon the half-hidden house of death. It 
was in mid-summer, when the alchemy of Nature transmutes the sylvan landscape to one 
vivid and almost homogeneous mass of green; when the senses are well-nigh intoxicated with 
the surging seas of moist verdure and the subtly indefinable odours of the soil and the 
vegetation. In such surroundings the mind loses its perspective; time and space become 
trivial and unreal, and echoes of a forgotten prehistoric past beat insistently upon the 
enthralled consciousness. All day I had been wandering through the mystic groves of the 
hollow; thinking thoughts I need not discuss, and conversing with things I need not name. In 
years a child of ten, I had seen and heard many wonders unknown to the throng; and was 
oddly aged in certain respects. When, upon forcing my way between two savage clumps of 
briers, I suddenly encountered the entrance of the vault, I had no knowledge of what I had 
discovered. The dark blocks of granite, the door so curiously ajar, and the funereal carvings 
above the arch, aroused in me no associations of mournful or terrible character. Of graves 
and tombs I knew and imagined much, but had on account of my peculiar temperament been 
kept from all personal contact with churchyards and cemeteries. The strange stone house on 
the woodland slope was to me only a source of interest and speculation; and its cold, damp 
interior, into which I vainly peered through the aperture so tantalisingly left, contained for me 
no hint of death or decay. But in that instant of curiosity was born the madly unreasoning 
desire which has brought me to this hell of confinement. Spurred on by a voice which must 
have come from the hideous soul of the forest, I resolved to enter the beckoning gloom in 
spite of the ponderous chains which barred my passage. In the waning light of day I 
alternately rattled the rusty impediments with a view to throwing wide the stone door, and 
essayed to squeeze my slight form through the space already provided; but neither plan met 
with success. At first curious, I was now frantic; and when in the thickening twilight I returned 
to my home, I had sworn to the hundred gods of the grove that at any cost I would some day 
force an entrance to the black, chilly depths that seemed calling out to me. The physician with 
the iron-grey beard who comes each day to my room once told a visitor that this decision 
marked the beginning of a pitiful monomania; but I will leave final judgment to my readers 
when they shall have learnt all. 

The months following my discovery were spent in futile attempts to force the complicated 
padlock of the slightly open vault, and in carefully guarded inquiries regarding the nature and 
history of the structure. With the traditionally receptive ears of the small boy, I learned much; 
though an habitual secretiveness caused me to tell no one of my information or my resolve. It 
is perhaps worth mentioning that I was not at all surprised or terrified on learning of the nature 
of the vault. My rather original ideas regarding life and death had caused me to associate the 
cold clay with the breathing body in a vague fashion; and I felt that the great and sinister 
family of the burned-down mansion was in some way represented within the stone space I 
sought to explore. Mumbled tales of the weird rites and godless revels of bygone years in the 
ancient hall gave to me a new and potent interest in the tomb, before whose door I would sit 
for hours at a time each day. Once I thrust a candle within the nearly closed entrance, but 
could see nothing save a flight of damp stone steps leading downward. The odour of the 
place repelled yet bewitched me. I felt I had known it before, in a past remote beyond all 
recollection; beyond even my tenancy of the body I now possess. 

The year after I first beheld the tomb, I stumbled upon a worm-eaten translation of Plutarch's 
Lives in the book-filled attic of my home. Reading the life of Theseus, I was much impressed 
by that passage telling of the great stone beneath which the boyish hero was to find his 
tol<ens of destiny whenever he should become old enough to lift its enormous weight. This 
legend had the effect of dispelling my keenest impatience to enter the vault, for it made me 
feel that the time was not yet ripe. Later, I told myself, I should grow to a strength and 
ingenuity which might enable me to unfasten the heavily chained door with ease; but until 
then I would do better by conforming to what seemed the will of Fate. 

Accordingly my watches by the dank portal became less persistent, and much of my time was 
spent in other though equally strange pursuits. I would sometimes rise very quietly in the 
night, stealing out to walk in those churchyards and places of burial from which I had been 
kept by my parents. What I did there I may not say, for I am not now sure of the reality of 
certain things; but I know that on the day after such a nocturnal ramble I would often astonish 
those about me with my knowledge of topics almost forgotten for many generations. It was 
after a night like this that I shocked the community with a queer conceit about the burial of the 
rich and celebrated Squire Brewster, a maker of local history who was interred in 1711 , and 
whose slate headstone, bearing a graven skull and crossbones, was slowly crumbling to 
powder. In a moment of childish imagination I vowed not only that the undertaker, Goodman 
Simpson, had stolen the silver-buckled shoes, silken hose, and satin small-clothes of the 
deceased before burial; but that the Squire himself, not fully inanimate, had turned twice in his 
mound-covered coffin on the day after interment. 

But the idea of entering the tomb never left my thoughts; being indeed stimulated by the 
unexpected genealogical discovery that my own maternal ancestry possessed at least a slight 
link with the supposedly extinct family of the Hydes. Last of my paternal race, I was likewise 
the last of this older and more mysterious line. I began to feel that the tomb was mine, and to 
look forward with hot eagerness to the time when I might pass within that stone door and 
down those slimy stone steps in the dark. I now formed the habit of listening very intently at 
the slightly open portal, choosing my favourite hours of midnight stillness for the odd vigil. By 
the time I came of age, I had made a small clearing in the thicket before the mould-stained 
facade of the hillside, allowing the surrounding vegetation to encircle and overhang the space 
like the walls and roof of a sylvan bower. This bower was my temple, the fastened door my 
shrine, and here I would lie outstretched on the mossy ground, thinking strange thoughts and 
dreaming strange dreams. 

The night of the first revelation was a sultry one. I must have fallen asleep from fatigue, for it 
was with a distinct sense of awakening that I heard the voices. Of those tones and accents I 
hesitate to speak; of their quality I will not speak; but I may say that they presented certain 
uncanny differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and mode of utterance. Every shade of 
New England dialect, from the uncouth syllables of the Puritan colonists to the precise rhetoric 
of fifty years ago, seemed represented in that shadowy colloquy, though it was only later that I 
noticed the fact. At the time, indeed, my attention was distracted from this matter by another 
phenomenon; a phenomenon so fleeting that I could not take oath upon its reality. I barely 
fancied that as I awoke, a light ha6 been hurriedly extinguished within the sunken sepulchre. I 
do not think I was either astounded or panic-stricken, but I know that I was greatly and 
permanently c/7aA7gfeGfthat night. Upon returning home I went with much directness to a rotting 
chest in the attic, wherein I found the key which next day unlocked with ease the barrier I had 
so long stormed in vain. 

It was in the soft glow of late afternoon that I first entered the vault on the abandoned slope. A 
spell was upon me, and my heart leaped with an exultation I can but ill describe. As I closed 
the door behind me and descended the dripping steps by the light of my lone candle, I 
seemed to know the way; and though the candle sputtered with the stifling reek of the place, I 
felt singularly at home in the musty, charnel-house air. Looking about me, I beheld many 
marble slabs bearing coffins, or the remains of coffins. Some of these were sealed and intact, 
but others had nearly vanished, leaving the silver handles and plates isolated amidst certain 
curious heaps of whitish dust. Upon one plate I read the name of Sir Geoffrey Hyde, who had 
come from Sussex in 1640 and died here a few years later. In a conspicuous alcove was one 
fairly well-preserved and untenanted casket, adorned with a single name which brought to me 
both a smile and a shudder. An odd impulse caused me to climb upon the broad slab, 
extinguish my candle, and lie down within the vacant box. 

In the grey light of dawn I staggered from the vault and locked the chain of the door behind 
me. I was no longer a young man, though but twenty-one winters had chilled my bodily frame. 
Early-rising villagers who observed my homeward progress looked at me strangely, and 
marvelled at the signs of ribald revelry which they saw in one whose life was known to be 
sober and solitary. I did not appear before my parents till after a long and refreshing sleep. 

Henceforward I haunted the tomb each night; seeing, hearing, and doing things I must never 
reveal. My speech, always susceptible to environmental influences, was the first thing to 
succumb to the change; and my suddenly acquired archaism of diction was soon remarked 
upon. Later a queer boldness and recklessness came into my demeanour, till I unconsciously 
grew to possess the bearing of a man of the world despite my lifelong seclusion. My formerly 
silent tongue waxed voluble with the easy grace of a Chesterfield or the godless cynicism of a 
Rochester. I displayed a peculiar erudition utterly unlike the fantastic, monkish lore over which 
I had pored in youth; and covered the flyleaves of my books with facile impromptu epigrams 
which brought up suggestions of Gay, Prior, and the sprightliest of the Augustan wits and 
rimesters. One morning at breakfast I came close to disaster by declaiming in palpably 
liquorish accents an effusion of eighteenth-century Bacchanalian mirth; a bit of Georgian 
playfulness never recorded in a book, which ran something like this: 

Come hither, my lads, with your tankards of ale. 
And drink to the present before it shall fail; 
Pile each on your platter a mountain of beef. 
For 'tis eating and drinking that bring us relief: 

So fill up your glass. 
For life will soon pass; 

When you're dead ye'll ne'er drink to your king or your lass! 

Anacreon had a red nose, so they say; 

But what's a red nose if ye're happy and gay? 

Gad split me! I'd rather be red whilst I'm here, 

Than white as a lily — and dead half a year! 
So Betty, my miss. 
Come give me a kiss; 

In hell there's no innkeeper's daughter like this! 

Young Harry, propp'd up just as straight as he's able, 
Will soon lose his wig and slip under the table; 
But fill up your goblets and pass 'em around — 
Better under the table than under the ground! 
So revel and chaff 
As ye thirstily quaff: 

Under six feet of dirt 'tis less easy to laugh! 

The fiend strike me blue! I'm scarce able to walk. 
And damn me if I can stand upright or talk! 

Here, landlord, bid Betty to summon a chair; 
I'll try home for a while, for my wife is not there! 
So lend me a hand; 
I'm not able to stand, 

But I'm gay whilst I linger on top of the land! 

About this time I conceived my present fear of fire and thunderstorms. Previously indifferent to 
such things, I had now an unspeakable horror of them; and would retire to the innermost 
recesses of the house whenever the heavens threatened an electrical display. A favourite 
haunt of mine during the day was the ruined cellar of the mansion that had burned down, and 
in fancy I would picture the structure as it had been in its prime. On one occasion I startled a 
villager by leading him confidently to a shallow sub-cellar, of whose existence I seemed to 
know in spite of the fact that it had been unseen and forgotten for many generations. 

At last came that which I had long feared. My parents, alarmed at the altered manner and 
appearance of their only son, commenced to exert over my movements a kindly espionage 
which threatened to result in disaster. I had told no one of my visits to the tomb, having 
guarded my secret purpose with religious zeal since childhood; but now I was forced to 
exercise care in threading the mazes of the wooded hollow, that I might throw off a possible 
pursuer. My key to the vault I kept suspended from a cord about my neck, its presence known 
only to me. I never carried out of the sepulchre any of the things I came upon whilst within its 

One morning as I emerged from the damp tomb and fastened the chain of the portal with 
none too steady hand, I beheld in an adjacent thicket the dreaded face of a watcher. Surely 
the end was near; for my bower was discovered, and the objective of my nocturnal journeys 
revealed. The man did not accost me, so I hastened home in an effort to overhear what he 
might report to my careworn father. Were my sojourns beyond the chained door about to be 
proclaimed to the world? Imagine my delighted astonishment on hearing the spy inform my 
parent in a cautious whisper that I had spent the night in the bower outside the tomb; my 
sleep-filmed eyes fixed upon the crevice where the padlocked portal stood ajar! By what 
miracle had the watcher been thus deluded? I was now convinced that a supernatural agency 
protected me. Made bold by this heaven-sent circumstance, I began to resume perfect 
openness in going to the vault; confident that no one could witness my entrance. For a week I 
tasted to the full the joys of that charnel conviviality which I must not describe, when the thing 
happened, and I was borne away to this accursed abode of sorrow and monotony. 

I should not have ventured out that night; for the taint of thunder was in the clouds, and a 
hellish phosphorescence rose from the rank swamp at the bottom of the hollow. The call of 
the dead, too, was different. Instead of the hillside tomb, it was the charred cellar on the crest 
of the slope whose presiding daemon becl<oned to me with unseen fingers. As I emerged 
from an intervening grove upon the plain before the ruin, I beheld in the misty moonlight a 
thing I had always vaguely expected. The mansion, gone for a century, once more reared its 
stately height to the raptured vision; every window ablaze with the splendour of many 
candles. Up the long drive rolled the coaches of the Boston gentry, whilst on foot came a 
numerous assemblage of powdered exquisites from the neighbouring mansions. With this 
throng I mingled, though I l<new I belonged with the hosts rather than with the guests. Inside 
the hall were music, laughter, and wine on every hand. Several faces I recognised; though I 
should have l<nown them better had they been shrivelled or eaten away by death and 
decomposition. Amidst a wild and reckless throng I was the wildest and most abandoned. Gay 
blasphemy poured in torrents from my lips, and in my shocking sallies I heeded no law of 
God, IVIan, or Nature. Suddenly a peal of thunder, resonant even above the din of the swinish 
revelry, clave the very roof and laid a hush of fear upon the boisterous company. Red tongues 
of flame and searing gusts of heat engulfed the house; and the roysterers, struck with terror at 
the descent of a calamity which seemed to transcend the bounds of unguided Nature, fled 
shrieking into the night. I alone remained, riveted to my seat by a grovelling fear which I had 
never felt before. And then a second horror took possession of my soul. Burnt alive to ashes, 
my body dispersed by the four winds, / might never lie in the tomb of the Hydesl^Nas not my 
coffin prepared for me? Had I not a right to rest till eternity amongst the descendants of Sir 
Geoffrey Hyde? Aye! I would claim my heritage of death, even though my soul go seeking 
through the ages for another corporeal tenement to represent it on that vacant slab in the 
alcove of the vault. Jervas IHyde should never share the sad fate of Palinurus! 

As the phantom of the burning house faded, I found myself screaming and struggling madly in 
the arms of two men, one of whom was the spy who had followed me to the tomb. Rain was 
pouring down in torrents, and upon the southern horizon were flashes of the lightning that had 
so lately passed over our heads. IVIy father, his face lined with sorrow, stood by as I shouted 
my demands to be laid within the tomb; frequently admonishing my captors to treat me as 
gently as they could. A blackened circle on the floor of the ruined cellar told of a violent stroke 
from the heavens; and from this spot a group of curious villagers with lanterns were prying a 
small box of antique workmanship which the thunderbolt had brought to light. Ceasing my 
futile and now objectless writhing, I watched the spectators as they viewed the treasure-trove, 
and was permitted to share in their discoveries. The box, whose fastenings were broken by 
the stroke which had unearthed it, contained many papers and objects of value; but I had 
eyes for one thing alone. It was the porcelain miniature of a young man in a smartly curled 
bag-wig, and bore the initials "J. H." The face was such that as I gazed, I might well have 
been studying my mirror. 

On the following day I was brought to this room with the barred windows, but I have been kept 
informed of certain things through an aged and simple-minded servitor, for whom I bore a 
fondness in infancy, and who like me loves the churchyard. What I have dared relate of my 
experiences within the vault has brought me only pitying smiles. IVIy father, who visits me 
frequently, declares that at no time did I pass the chained portal, and swears that the rusted 
padlock had not been touched for fifty years when he examined it. He even says that all the 
village knew of my journeys to the tomb, and that I was often watched as I slept in the bower 
outside the grim facade, my half-open eyes fixed on the crevice that leads to the interior. 
Against these assertions I have no tangible proof to offer, since my key to the padlock was 

lost in the struggle on that night of horrors. The strange things of the past which I learnt during 
those nocturnal meetings with the dead he dismisses as the fruits of my lifelong and 
omnivorous browsing amongst the ancient volumes of the family library. Had it not been for 
my old servant Hiram, I should have by this time become quite convinced of my madness. 

But Hiram, loyal to the last, has held faith in me, and has done that which impels me to make 
public at least a part of my story. A week ago he burst open the lock which chains the door of 
the tomb perpetually ajar, and descended with a lantern into the murky depths. On a slab in 
an alcove he found an old but empty coffin whose tarnished plate bears the single word 
"Jervas". In that coffin and in that vault they have promised me I shall be buried. 

Return to Table of Contents 



I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. 
Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can 
bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window Into the squalid street 
below. Do not think from my slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When 
you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it 
is that I must have forgetfulness or death. 

It was in one of the most open and least frequented parts of the broad Pacific that the packet 
of which I was supercargo fell a victim to the German sea-raider. The great war was then at its 
very beginning, and the ocean forces of the Hun had not completely sunk to their later 
degradation; so that our vessel was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were 
treated with all the fairness and consideration due us as naval prisoners. So liberal, indeed, 
was the discipline of our captors, that five days after we were taken I managed to escape 
alone in a small boat with water and provisions for a good length of time. 

When I finally found myself adrift and free, I had but little idea of my surroundings. Never a 
competent navigator, I could only guess vaguely by the sun and stars that I was somewhat 
south of the equator. Of the longitude I knew nothing, and no island or coast-line was in sight. 
The weather kept fair, and for uncounted days I drifted aimlessly beneath the scorching sun; 
waiting either for some passing ship, or to be cast on the shores of some habitable land. But 
neither ship nor land appeared, and I began to despair in my solitude upon the heaving 
vastnesses of unbroken blue. 

The change happened whilst I slept. Its details I shall never know; for my slumber, though 
troubled and dream-infested, was continuous. When at last I awaked, it was to discover 
myself half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended about me in 
monotonous undulations as far as I could see, and in which my boat lay grounded some 
distance away. 

Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder at so prodigious 
and unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was in reality more horrified than astonished; 
for there was in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister quality which chilled me to the very 
core. The region was putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable 
things which I saw protruding from the nasty mud of the unending plain. Perhaps I should not 
hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence 
and barren immensity. There was nothing within hearing, and nothing in sight save a vast 
reach of black slime; yet the very completeness of the stillness and the homogeneity of the 
landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear. 

The sun was blazing down from a sky which seemed to me almost black in its cloudless 
cruelty; as though reflecting the inky marsh beneath my feet. As I crawled into the stranded 
boat I realised that only one theory could explain my position. Through some unprecedented 
volcanic upheaval, a portion of the ocean floor must have been thrown to the surface, 
exposing regions which for innumerable millions of years had lain hidden under unfathomable 
watery depths. So great was the extent of the new land which had risen beneath me, that I 
could not detect the faintest noise of the surging ocean, strain my ears as I might. Nor were 
there any sea-fowl to prey upon the dead things. 

For several hours I sat thinking or brooding in the boat, which lay upon its side and afforded a 
slight shade as the sun moved across the heavens. As the day progressed, the ground lost 
some of its stickiness, and seemed likely to dry sufficiently for travelling purposes in a short 
time. That night I slept but little, and the next day I made for myself a pack containing food 
and water, preparatory to an overland journey in search of the vanished sea and possible 

On the third morning I found the soil dry enough to walk upon with ease. The odour of the fish 
was maddening; but I was too much concerned with graver things to mind so slight an evil, 
and set out boldly for an unknown goal. All day I forged steadily westward, guided by a far- 
away hummock which rose higher than any other elevation on the rolling desert. That night I 
encamped, and on the following day still travelled toward the hummock, though that object 
seemed scarcely nearer than when I had first espied it. By the fourth evening I attained the 
base of the mound, which turned out to be much higher than it had appeared from a distance; 
an intervening valley setting it out in sharper relief from the general surface. Too weary to 
ascend, I slept in the shadow of the hill. 

I know not why my dreams were so wild that night; but ere the waning and fantastically 
gibbous moon had risen far above the eastern plain, I was awake in a cold perspiration, 
determined to sleep no more. Such visions as I had experienced were too much for me to 
endure again. And in the glow of the moon I saw how unwise I had been to travel by day. 
Without the glare of the parching sun, my journey would have cost me less energy; indeed, I 
now felt quite able to perform the ascent which had deterred me at sunset. Picking up my 
pack, I started for the crest of the eminence. 

I have said that the unbroken monotony of the rolling plain was a source of vague horror to 
me; but I think my horror was greater when I gained the summit of the mound and looked 
down the other side into an immeasurable pit or canyon, whose black recesses the moon had 
not yet soared high enough to illumine. I felt myself on the edge of the world; peering over the 
rim into a fathomless chaos of eternal night. Through my terror ran curious reminiscences of 
Paradise Lost, and of Satan's hideous climb through the unfashioned realms of darkness. 

As the moon climbed higher in the sky, I began to see that the slopes of the valley were not 
quite so perpendicular as I had imagined. Ledges and outcroppings of rock afforded fairly 
easy foot-holds for a descent, whilst after a drop of a few hundred feet, the declivity became 
very gradual. Urged on by an impulse which I cannot definitely analyse, I scrambled with 
difficulty down the rocks and stood on the gentler slope beneath, gazing into the Stygian 
deeps where no light had yet penetrated. 

All at once my attention was captured by a vast and singular object on the opposite slope, 
which rose steeply about an hundred yards ahead of me; an object that gleamed whitely in 
the newly bestowed rays of the ascending moon. That it was merely a gigantic piece of stone, 
I soon assured myself; but I was conscious of a distinct impression that its contour and 
position were not altogether the work of Nature. A closer scrutiny filled me with sensations I 
cannot express; for despite its enormous magnitude, and its position in an abyss which had 
yawned at the bottom of the sea since the world was young, I perceived beyond a doubt that 
the strange object was a well-shaped monolith whose massive bulk had known the 
workmanship and perhaps the worship of living and thinking creatures. 

Dazed and frightened, yet not without a certain thrill of the scientist's or archaeologist's 
delight, I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon, now near the zenith, shone 
weirdly and vividly above the towering steeps that hemmed in the chasm, and revealed the 

fact that a far-flung body of water flowed at the bottom, winding out of sight in both directions, 
and almost lapping my feet as I stood on the slope. Across the chasm, the wavelets washed 
the base of the Cyclopean monolith; on whose surface I could now trace both inscriptions and 
crude sculptures. The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to me, and unlike 
anything I had ever seen in books; consisting for the most part of conventionalised aquatic 
symbols such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, molluscs, whales, and the like. Several 
characters obviously represented marine things which are unknown to the modern world, but 
whose decomposing forms I had observed on the ocean-risen plain. 

It was the pictorial carving, however, that did most to hold me spellbound. Plainly visible 
across the intervening water on account of their enormous size, were an array of bas-reliefs 
whose subjects would have excited the envy of a Dore. I think that these things were 
supposed to depict men — at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shewn 
disporting like fishes in the waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage at some 
monolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I 
dare not speak in detail; for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint. Grotesque beyond 
the imagination of a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline despite 
webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other 
features less pleasant to recall. Curiously enough, they seemed to have been chiselled badly 
out of proportion with their scenic background; for one of the creatures was shewn in the act 
of killing a whale represented as but little larger than himself. I remarked, as I say, their 
grotesqueness and strange size; but in a moment decided that they were merely the 
imaginary gods of some primitive fishing or seafaring tribe; some tribe whose last descendant 
had perished eras before the first ancestor of the Piltdown or Neanderthal Man was born. 
Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse into a past beyond the conception of the most daring 
anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon cast queer reflections on the silent channel 
before me. 

Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to the surface, the thing slid 
into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome, it darted like a 
stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly 
arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I 
went mad then. 

Of my frantic ascent of the slope and cliff, and of my delirious journey back to the stranded 
boat, I remember little. I believe I sang a great deal, and laughed oddly when I was unable to 
sing. I have indistinct recollections of a great storm some time after I reached the boat; at any 
rate, I know that I heard peals of thunder and other tones which Nature utters only in her 
wildest moods. 

When I came out of the shadows I was in a San Francisco hospital; brought thither by the 
captain of the American ship which had picked up my boat in mid-ocean. In my delirium I had 
said much, but found that my words had been given scant attention. Of any land upheaval in 
the Pacific, my rescuers knew nothing; nor did I deem it necessary to insist upon a thing 
which I knew they could not believe. Once I sought out a celebrated ethnologist, and amused 
him with peculiar questions regarding the ancient Philistine legend of Dagon, the Fish-God; 
but soon perceiving that he was hopelessly conventional, I did not press my inquiries. 

It is at night, especially when the moon is gibbous and waning, that I see the thing. I tried 
morphine; but the drug has given only transient surcease, and has drawn me into its clutches 
as a hopeless slave. So now I am to end it all, having written a full account for the information 
or the contemptuous amusement of my fellow-men. Often I ask myself if it could not all have 

been a pure phantasm — a mere freak of fever as I lay sun-stricken and raving in tlie open 
boat after my escape from the German man-of-war. This I ask myself, but ever does there 
come before me a hideously vivid vision in reply. I cannot think of the deep sea without 
shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering 
on its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable 
likenesses on submarine obelisks of water-soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may 
rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war- 
exhausted mankind — of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend 
amidst universal pandemonium. 

The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery body lumbering 
against it. It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window! The window! 

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Into the north window of my chamber glows the Pole Star with uncanny light. All through the 
long hellish hours of blackness it shines there. And in the autumn of the year, when the winds 
from the north curse and whine, and the red-leaved trees of the swamp mutter things to one 
another In the small hours of the morning under the horned waning moon, I sit by the 
casement and watch that star. Down from the heights reels the glittering Cassiopeia as the 
hours wear on, while Charles' Wain lumbers up from behind the vapour-soaked swamp trees 
that sway in the night-wind. Just before dawn Arcturus winks ruddily from above the cemetery 
on the low hillock, and Coma Berenices shimmers weirdly afar off in the mysterious east; but 
still the Pole Star leers down from the same place in the black vault, winking hideously like an 
insane watching eye which strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save 
that it once had a message to convey. Sometimes, when it is cloudy, I can sleep. 

Well do I remember the night of the great Aurora, when over the swamp played the shocking 
coruscations of the daemon-light. After the beams came clouds, and then I slept. 

And it was under a horned waning moon that I saw the city for the first time. Still and 
somnolent did it lie, on a strange plateau in a hollow betwixt strange peaks. Of ghastly marble 
were its walls and its towers, its columns, domes, and pavements. In the marble streets were 
marble pillars, the upper parts of which were carven into the images of grave bearded men. 
The air was warm and stirred not. And overhead, scarce ten degrees from the zenith, glowed 
that watching Pole Star. Long did I gaze on the city, but the day came not. When the red 
Aldebaran, which blinked low in the sky but never set, had crawled a quarter of the way 
around the horizon, I saw light and motion in the houses and the streets. Forms strangely 
robed, but at once noble and familiar, walked abroad, and under the horned waning moon 
men talked wisdom in a tongue which I understood, though it was unlike any language I had 
ever known. And when the red Aldebaran had crawled more than half way around the horizon, 
there were again darkness and silence. 

When I awaked, I was not as I had been. Upon my memory was graven the vision of the city, 
and within my soul had arisen another and vaguer recollection, of whose nature I was not 
then certain. Thereafter, on the cloudy nights when I could sleep, I saw the city often; 
sometimes under that horned waning moon, and sometimes under the hot yellow rays of a 
sun which did not set, but which wheeled low around the horizon. And on the clear nights the 
Pole Star leered as never before. 

Gradually I came to wonder what might be my place in that city on the strange plateau betwixt 
strange peaks. At first content to view the scene as an all-observant uncorporeal presence, I 
now desired to define my relation to it, and to speak my mind amongst the grave men who 
conversed each day in the public squares. I said to myself, "This is no dream, for by what 
means can I prove the greater reality of that other life in the house of stone and brick south of 
the sinister swamp and the cemetery on the low hillock, where the Pole Star peers into my 
north window each night?" 

One night as I listened to the discourse in the large square containing many statues, I felt a 
change; and perceived that I had at last a bodily form. Nor was I a stranger in the streets of 
Olathoe, which lies on the plateau of Sarkis, betwixt the peaks Noton and Kadiphonek. It was 
my friend Alos who spoke, and his speech was one that pleased my soul, for it was the 

speech of a true man and patriot. That night had the news come of Dail<os' fall, and of the 
advance of the Inutos; squat, hellish, yellow fiends who five years ago had appeared out of 
the unknown west to ravage the confines of our kingdom, and finally to besiege our towns. 
Having taken the fortified places at the foot of the mountains, their way now lay open to the 
plateau, unless every citizen could resist with the strength of ten men. For the squat creatures 
were mighty in the arts of war, and knew not the scruples of honour which held back our tall, 
grey-eyed men of Lomar from ruthless conquest. 

Alos, my friend, was commander of all the forces on the plateau, and in him lay the last hope 
of our country. On this occasion he spoke of the perils to be faced, and exhorted the men of 
Olathoe, bravest of the Lomarians, to sustain the traditions of their ancestors, who when 
forced to move southward from Zobna before the advance of the great ice-sheet (even as our 
descendants must some day flee from the land of Lomar), valiantly and victoriously swept 
aside the hairy, long-armed, cannibal Gnophkehs that stood in their way. To me Alos denied a 
warrior's part, for I was feeble and given to strange faintings when subjected to stress and 
hardships. But my eyes were the keenest in the city, despite the long hours I gave each day to 
the study of the Pnakotic manuscripts and the wisdom of the Zobnarian Fathers; so my friend, 
desiring not to doom me to inaction, rewarded me with that duty which was second to nothing 
in importance. To the watch-tower of Thapnen he sent me, there to serve as the eyes of our 
army. Should the Inutos attempt to gain the citadel by the narrow pass behind the peak Noton, 
and thereby surprise the garrison, I was to give the signal of fire which would warn the waiting 
soldiers and save the town from immediate disaster. 

Alone I mounted the tower, for every man of stout body was needed in the passes below. My 
brain was sore dazed with excitement and fatigue, for I had not slept in many days; yet was 
my purpose firm, for I loved my native land of Lomar, and the marble city of Olathoe that lies 
betwixt the peaks of Noton and Kadiphonek. 

But as I stood in the tower's topmost chamber, I beheld the horned waning moon, red and 
sinister, quivering through the vapours that hovered over the distant valley of Banof. And 
through an opening in the roof glittered the pale Pole Star, fluttering as if alive, and leering like 
a fiend and tempter. Methought its spirit whispered evil counsel, soothing me to traitorous 
somnolence with a damnable rhythmical promise which it repeated over and over: 

"Slumber, watcher, till the spheres 

Six and twenty thousand years 

Have revolv'd, and I return 

To the spot where now I burn. 

Other stars anon shall rise 

To the axis of the skies; 

Stars that soothe and stars that bless 

With a sweet forgetfulness: 

Only when my round is o'er 

Shall the past disturb thy door." 

Vainly did I struggle with my drowsiness, seeking to connect these strange words with some 
lore of the skies which I had learnt from the Pnakotic manuscripts. IVIy head, heavy and 
reeling, drooped to my breast, and when next I looked up it was in a dream; with the Pole Star 
grinning at me through a window from over the horrible swaying trees of a dream-swamp. And 
I am still dreaming. 

In my shame and despair I sometimes scream frantically, begging the dream -creatures 
around me to waken me ere the Inutos steal up the pass behind the peak Noton and take the 
citadel by surprise; but these creatures are daemons, for they laugh at me and tell me I am 
not dreaming. They mock me whilst I sleep, and whilst the squat yellow foe may be creeping 
silently upon us. I have failed in my duty and betrayed the marble city of Olathoe; I have 
proven false to Alos, my friend and commander. But still these shadows of my dream deride 
me. They say there is no land of Lomar, save in my nocturnal imaginings; that in those realms 
where the Pole Star shines high and red Aldebaran crawls low around the horizon, there has 
been naught save ice and snow for thousands of years, and never a man save squat yellow 
creatures, blighted by the cold, whom they call "Esquimaux". 

And as I writhe in my guilty agony, frantic to save the city whose peril every moment grows, 
and vainly striving to shake off this unnatural dream of a house of stone and brick south of a 
sinister swamp and a cemetery on a low hillock; the Pole Star, evil and monstrous, leers down 
from the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey 
some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Beyond the Wall of Sleep 


"/ have an exposition of sleep come upon me." 
— Shakespeare. 

I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the 
occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. 
Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and 
fantastic reflections of our waking experiences — Freud to the contrary with his puerile 
symbolism — there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character 
permits of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect 
suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than 
physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience 
I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in 
another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know; and of which only 
the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and 
fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, 
matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that 
time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe 
that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe 
is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon. 

It was from a youthful reverie filled with speculations of this sort that I arose one afternoon in 
the winter of 1900-1901 , when to the state psychopathic institution in which I served as an 
interne was brought the man whose case has ever since haunted me so unceasingly. His 
name, as given on the records, was Joe Slater, or Slaader, and his appearance was that of 
the typical denizen of the Catskill Mountain region; one of those strange, repellent scions of a 
primitive colonial peasant stock whose isolation for nearly three centuries in the hilly 
fastnesses of a little-travelled countryside has caused them to sink to a kind of barbaric 
degeneracy, rather than advance with their more fortunately placed brethren of the thickly 
settled districts. Among these odd folk, who correspond exactly to the decadent element of 
"white trash" in the South, law and morals are non-existent; and their general mental status is 
probably below that of any other section of the native American people. 

Joe Slater, who came to the institution in the vigilant custody of four state policemen, and who 
was described as a highly dangerous character, certainly presented no evidence of his 
perilous disposition when first I beheld him. Though well above the middle stature, and of 
somewhat brawny frame, he was given an absurd appearance of harmless stupidity by the 
pale, sleepy blueness of his small watery eyes, the scantiness of his neglected and never- 
shaven growth of yellow beard, and the listless drooping of his heavy nether lip. His age was 
unknown, since among his kind neither family records nor permanent family ties exist; but 
from the baldness of his head in front, and from the decayed condition of his teeth, the head 
surgeon wrote him down as a man of about forty. 

From the medical and court documents we learned all that could be gathered of his case. This 
man, a vagabond, hunter, and trapper, had always been strange in the eyes of his primitive 
associates. He had habitually slept at night beyond the ordinary time, and upon waking would 
often talk of unknown things in a manner so bizarre as to inspire fear even in the hearts of an 
unimaginative populace. Not that his form of language was at all unusual, for he never spoke 

save in the debased patois of his environment; but tine tone and tenor of liis utterances were 
of such mysterious wlldness, that none might listen without apprehension. He himself was 
generally as terrified and baffled as his auditors, and within an hour after awal<ening would 
forget all that he had said, or at least all that had caused him to say what he did; relapsing 
into a bovine, half-amiable normality like that of the other hill-dwellers. 

As Slater grew older, it appeared, his matutinal aberrations had gradually increased in 
frequency and violence; till about a month before his arrival at the institution had occurred the 
shocl^ing tragedy which caused his arrest by the authorities. One day near noon, after a 
profound sleep begun in a whisl^ey debauch at about five of the previous afternoon, the man 
had roused himself most suddenly; with ululations so horrible and unearthly that they brought 
several neighbours to his cabin — a filthy sty where he dwelt with a family as indescribable as 
himself. Rushing out into the snow, he had flung his arms aloft and commenced a series of 
leaps directly upward in the air; the while shouting his determination to reach some 'big, big 
cabin with brightness in the roof and walls and floor, and the loud queer music far away'. As 
two men of moderate size sought to restrain him, he had struggled with maniacal force and 
fury, screaming of his desire and need to find and kill a certain 'thing that shines and shakes 
and laughs'. At length, after temporarily felling one of his detainers with a sudden blow, he 
had flung himself upon the other in a daemoniac ecstasy of bloodthirstiness, shrieking 
fiendishly that he would 'jump high in the air and burn his way through anything that stopped 
him'. Family and neighbours had now fled in a panic, and when the more courageous of them 
returned. Slater was gone, leaving behind an unrecognisable pulp-like thing that had been a 
living man but an hour before. None of the mountaineers had dared to pursue him, and it is 
likely that they would have welcomed his death from the cold; but when several mornings 
later they heard his screams from a distant ravine, they realised that he had somehow 
managed to survive, and that his removal in one way or another would be necessary. Then 
had followed an armed searching party, whose purpose (whatever it may have been 
originally) became that of a sheriff's posse after one of the seldom popular state troopers had 
by accident observed, then questioned, and finally joined the seekers. 

On the third day Slater was found unconscious in the hollow of a tree, and taken to the 
nearest gaol; where alienists from Albany examined him as soon as his senses returned. To 
them he told a simple story. He had, he said, gone to sleep one afternoon about sundown 
after drinking much liquor. He had awaked to find himself standing bloody-handed in the snow 
before his cabin, the mangled corpse of his neighbour Peter Slader at his feet. Horrified, he 
had taken to the woods in a vague effort to escape from the scene of what must have been 
his crime. Beyond these things he seemed to know nothing, nor could the expert questioning 
of his interrogators bring out a single additional fact. That night Slater slept quietly, and the 
next morning he wakened with no singular feature save a certain alteration of expression. Dr. 
Barnard, who had been watching the patient, thought he noticed in the pale blue eyes a 
certain gleam of peculiar quality; and in the flaccid lips an all but imperceptible tightening, as if 
of intelligent determination. But when questioned, Slater relapsed into the habitual vacancy of 
the mountaineer, and only reiterated what he had said on the preceding day. 

On the third morning occurred the first of the man's mental attacks. After some show of 
uneasiness in sleep, he burst forth into a frenzy so powerful that the combined efforts of four 
men were needed to bind him in a strait-jacket. The alienists listened with keen attention to 

his words, since their curiosity had been aroused to a high pitch by the suggestive yet mostly 
conflicting and incoherent stories of his family and neighbours. Slater raved for upward of 
fifteen minutes, babbling in his backwoods dialect of great edifices of light, oceans of space. 

strange music, and shadowy mountains and valleys. But most of all did he dwell upon some 
mysterious blazing entity that shook and laughed and mocked at him. This vast, vague 
personality seemed to have done him a terrible wrong, and to kill it in triumphant revenge was 
his paramount desire. In order to reach it, he said, he would soar through abysses of 
emptiness, burning every obstacle that stood in his way. Thus ran his discourse, until with the 
greatest suddenness he ceased. The fire of madness died from his eyes, and in dull wonder 
he looked at his questioners and asked why he was bound. Dr. Barnard unbuckled the 
leathern harness and did not restore it till night, when he succeeded in persuading Slater to 
don it of his own volition, for his own good. The man had now admitted that he sometimes 
talked queerly, though he knew not why. 

Within a week two more attacks appeared, but from them the doctors learned little. On the 
source of Slater's visions they speculated at length, for since he could neither read nor write, 
and had apparently never heard a legend or fairy tale, his gorgeous imagery was quite 
inexplicable. That it could not come from any known myth or romance was made especially 
clear by the fact that the unfortunate lunatic expressed himself only in his own simple manner. 
He raved of things he did not understand and could not interpret; things which he claimed to 
have experienced, but which he could not have learned through any normal or connected 
narration. The alienists soon agreed that abnormal dreams were the foundation of the trouble; 
dreams whose vividness could for a time completely dominate the waking mind of this 
basically inferior man. With due formality Slater was tried for murder, acquitted on the ground 
of insanity, and committed to the institution wherein I held so humble a post. 

I have said that I am a constant speculator concerning dream life, and from this you may 
judge of the eagerness with which I applied myself to the study of the new patient as soon as 
I had fully ascertained the facts of his case. He seemed to sense a certain friendliness in me; 
born no doubt of the interest I could not conceal, and the gentle manner in which I questioned 
him. Not that he ever recognised me during his attacks, when I hung breathlessly upon his 
chaotic but cosmic word-pictures; but he knew me in his quiet hours, when he would sit by his 
barred window weaving baskets of straw and willow, and perhaps pining for the mountain 
freedom he could never enjoy again. His family never called to see him; probably it had found 
another temporary head, after the manner of decadent mountain folk. 

By degrees I commenced to feel an overwhelming wonder at the mad and fantastic 
conceptions of Joe Slater. The man himself was pitiably inferior in mentality and language 
alike; but his glowing, titanic visions, though described in a barbarous and disjointed jargon, 
were assuredly things which only a superior or even exceptional brain could conceive. How, I 
often asked myself, could the stolid imagination of a Catskill degenerate conjure up sights 
whose very possession argued a lurking spark of genius? How could any backwoods dullard 
have gained so much as an idea of those glittering realms of supernal radiance and space 
about which Slater ranted in his furious delirium? IVIore and more I inclined to the belief that in 
the pitiful personality who cringed before me lay the disordered nucleus of something beyond 
my comprehension; something infinitely beyond the comprehension of my more experienced 
but less imaginative medical and scientific colleagues. 

And yet I could extract nothing definite from the man. The sum of all my investigation was, 
that in a kind of semi-uncorporeal dream life Slater wandered or floated through resplendent 
and prodigious valleys, meadows, gardens, cities, and palaces of light; in a region unbounded 
and unknown to man. That there he was no peasant or degenerate, but a creature of 
importance and vivid life; moving proudly and dominantly, and checked only by a certain 
deadly enemy, who seemed to be a being of visible yet ethereal structure, and who did not 

appear to be of human shape, since Slater never referred to it as a man, or as aught save a 
thing. This thing had done Slater some hideous but unnamed wrong, which the maniac (if 
maniac he were) yearned to avenge. From the manner in which Slater alluded to their 
dealings, I judged that he and the luminous thing had met on equal terms; that in his dream 
existence the man was himself a luminous thing of the same race as his enemy. This 
impression was sustained by his frequent references to fiying through space and burning all 
that impeded his progress. Yet these conceptions were formulated in rustic words wholly 
inadequate to convey them, a circumstance which drove me to the conclusion that if a true 
dream-world indeed existed, oral language was not its medium for the transmission of 
thought. Could it be that the dream-soul inhabiting this inferior body was desperately 
struggling to speal^ things which the simple and halting tongue of dulness could not utter? 
Could it be that I was face to face with intellectual emanations which would explain the 
mystery if I could but learn to discover and read them? I did not tell the older physicians of 
these things, for middle age is sceptical, cynical, and disinclined to accept new ideas. 
Besides, the head of the institution had but lately warned me in his paternal way that I was 
overworl^ing; that my mind needed a rest. 

It had long been my belief that human thought consists basically of atomic or molecular 
motion, convertible into ether waves of radiant energy like heat, light, and electricity. This 
belief had early led me to contemplate the possibility of telepathy or mental communication by 
means of suitable apparatus, and I had in my college days prepared a set of transmitting and 
receiving instruments somewhat similar to the cumbrous devices employed in wireless 
telegraphy at that crude, pre-radio period. These I had tested with a fellow-student; but 
achieving no result, had soon packed them away with other scientific odds and ends for 
possible future use. Now, in my intense desire to probe into the dream life of Joe Slater, I 
sought these instruments again; and spent several days in repairing them for action. When 
they were complete once more I missed no opportunity for their trial. At each outburst of 
Slater's violence, i would fit the transmitter to his forehead and the receiver to my own; 
constantly making delicate adjustments for various hypothetical wave-lengths of intellectual 
energy. I had but little notion of how the thought-impressions would, if successfully conveyed, 
arouse an intelligent response in my brain; but I felt certain that I could detect and interpret 
them. Accordingly I continued my experiments, though informing no one of their nature. 

It was on the twenty-first of February, 1 901 , that the thing finally occurred. As I look back 
across the years I realise how unreal it seems; and sometimes half wonder if old Dr. Fenton 
was not right when he charged it all to my excited imagination. I recall that he listened with 
great kindness and patience when I told him, but aftenward gave me a nerve-powder and 
arranged for the half-year's vacation on which I departed the next week. That fateful night I 
was wildly agitated and perturbed, for despite the excellent care he had received, Joe Slater 
was unmistakably dying. Perhaps it was his mountain freedom that he missed, or perhaps the 
turmoil in his brain had grown too acute for his rather sluggish physique; but at all events the 
flame of vitality flickered low in the decadent body. He was drowsy near the end, and as 
darkness fell he dropped off into a troubled sleep. I did not strap on the strait-jacket as was 
customary when he slept, since I saw that he was too feeble to be dangerous, even if he 
woke in mental disorder once more before passing away. But I did place upon his head and 
mine the two ends of my cosmic "radio"; hoping against hope for a first and last message from 
the dream-world in the brief time remaining. In the cell with us was one nurse, a mediocre 
fellow who did not understand the purpose of the apparatus, or think to inquire into my 

course. As the hours wore on I saw his head droop awkwardly in sleep, but I did not disturb 
him. I myself, lulled by the rhythmical breathing of the healthy and the dying man, must have 
nodded a little later. 

The sound of weird lyric melody was what aroused me. Chords, vibrations, and harmonic 
ecstasies echoed passionately on every hand; while on my ravished sight burst the 
stupendous spectacle of ultimate beauty. Walls, columns, and architraves of living fire blazed 
effulgently around the spot where I seemed to float in air; extending upward to an infinitely 
high vaulted dome of indescribable splendour. Blending with this display of palatial 
magnificence, or rather, supplanting it at times in kaleidoscopic rotation, were glimpses of 
wide plains and graceful valleys, high mountains and inviting grottoes; covered with every 
lovely attribute of scenery which my delighted eye could conceive of, yet formed wholly of 
some glowing, ethereal, plastic entity, which in consistency partook as much of spirit as of 
matter. As I gazed, I perceived that my own brain held the key to these enchanting 
metamorphoses; for each vista which appeared to me, was the one my changing mind most 
wished to behold. Amidst this elysian realm I dwelt not as a stranger, for each sight and sound 
was familiar to me; just as it had been for uncounted aeons of eternity before, and would be 
for like eternities to come. 

Then the resplendent aura of my brother of light drew near and held colloquy with me, soul to 
soul, with silent and perfect interchange of thought. The hour was one of approaching 
triumph, for was not my fellow-being escaping at last from a degrading periodic bondage; 
escaping forever, and preparing to follow the accursed oppressor even unto the uttermost 
fields of ether, that upon it might be wrought a flaming cosmic vengeance which would shake 
the spheres? We floated thus for a little time, when I perceived a slight blurring and fading of 
the objects around us, as though some force were recalling me to earth — where I least 
wished to go. The form near me seemed to feel a change also, for it gradually brought its 
discourse toward a conclusion, and itself prepared to quit the scene; fading from my sight at a 
rate somewhat less rapid than that of the other objects. A few more thoughts were 
exchanged, and I knew that the luminous one and I were being recalled to bondage, though 
for my brother of light it would be the last time. The sorry planet-shell being well-nigh spent, in 
less than an hour my fellow would be free to pursue the oppressor along the Milky Way and 
past the hither stars to the very confines of infinity. 

A well-defined shock separates my final impression of the fading scene of light from my 
sudden and somewhat shamefaced awakening and straightening up in my chair as I saw the 
dying figure on the couch move hesitantly. Joe Slater was indeed awaking, though probably 
for the last time. As I looked more closely, I saw that in the sallow cheeks shone spots of 
colour which had never before been present. The lips, too, seemed unusual; being tightly 
compressed, as if by the force of a stronger character than had been Slater's. The whole face 
finally began to grow tense, and the head turned restlessly with closed eyes. I did not arouse 
the sleeping nurse, but readjusted the slightly disarranged head-bands of my telepathic 
"radio", intent to catch any parting message the dreamer might have to deliver. All at once the 
head turned sharply in my direction and the eyes fell open, causing me to stare in blank 
amazement at what I beheld. The man who had been Joe Slater, the Catskill decadent, was 
now gazing at me with a pair of luminous, expanded eyes whose blue seemed subtly to have 
deepened. Neither mania nor degeneracy was visible in that gaze, and I felt beyond a doubt 
that I was viewing a face behind which lay an active mind of high order. 

At this juncture my brain became aware of a steady external influence operating upon it. I 
closed my eyes to concentrate my thoughts more profoundly, and was rewarded by the 

positive l<nowledge tliat my long-sought mental message had come at last. Eacli transmitted 
idea formed rapidly in my mind, and though no actual language was employed, my habitual 
association of conception and expression was so great that I seemed to be receiving the 
message in ordinary English. 

"Joe Slater is dead," came the soul-petrifying voice or agency from beyond the wall of sleep. 
IVIy opened eyes sought the couch of pain in curious horror, but the blue eyes were still calmly 
gazing, and the countenance was still intelligently animated. "He is better dead, for he was 
unfit to bear the active intellect of cosmic entity. His gross body could not undergo the needed 
adjustments between ethereal life and planet life. He was too much of an animal, too little a 
man; yet it is through his deficiency that you have come to discover me, for the cosmic and 
planet souls rightly should never meet. He has been my torment and diurnal prison for forty- 
two of your terrestrial years. I am an entity like that which you yourself become in the freedom 
of dreamless sleep. I am your brother of light, and have floated with you in the effulgent 
valleys. It is not permitted me to tell your waking earth-self of your real self, but we are all 
roamers of vast spaces and travellers in many ages. Next year I may be dwelling in the dark 
Egypt which you call ancient, or in the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan which is to come three 
thousand years hence. You and I have drifted to the worlds that reel about the red Arcturus, 
and dwelt in the bodies of the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of 
Jupiter. How little does the earth-self know of life and its extent! How little, indeed, ought it to 
know for its own tranquillity! Of the oppressor I cannot speak. You on earth have unwittingly 
felt its distant presence — you who without knowing idly gave to its blinking beacon the name 
of Algol, the Daemon-Star. It is to meet and conquer the oppressor that I have vainly striven 
for aeons, held back by bodily encumbrances. Tonight I go as a Nemesis bearing just and 
blazingly cataclysmic vengeance. Watch me In the sky close by the Daemon-Star I cannot 
speak longer, for the body of Joe Slater grows cold and rigid, and the coarse brains are 
ceasing to vibrate as I wish. You have been my friend in the cosmos; you have been my only 
friend on this planet — the only soul to sense and seek for me within the repellent form which 
lies on this couch. We shall meet again — perhaps in the shining mists of Orion's Sword, 
perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia. Perhaps in unremembered dreams tonight; 
perhaps in some other form an aeon hence, when the solar system shall have been swept 

At this point the thought-waves abruptly ceased, and the pale eyes of the dreamer — or can I 
say dead man? — commenced to glaze fishily. In a half-stupor I crossed over to the couch and 
felt of his wrist, but found it cold, stiff, and pulseless. The sallow cheeks paled again, and the 
thick lips fell open, disclosing the repulsively rotten fangs of the degenerate Joe Slater. I 
shivered, pulled a blanket over the hideous face, and awakened the nurse. Then I left the cell 
and went silently to my room. I had an insistent and unaccountable craving for a sleep whose 
dreams I should not remember. 

The climax? What plain tale of science can boast of such a rhetorical effect? I have merely set 
down certain things appealing to me as facts, allowing you to construe them as you will. As I 
have already admitted, my superior, old Dr. Fenton, denies the reality of everything I have 
related. He vows that I was broken down with nervous strain, and badly in need of the long 
vacation on full pay which he so generously gave me. He assures me on his professional 
honour that Joe Slater was but a low-grade paranoiac, whose fantastic notions must have 
come from the crude hereditary folk-tales which circulate in even the most decadent of 
communities. All this he tells me — yet I cannot forget what I saw in the sky on the night after 
Slater died. Lest you think me a biassed witness, another's pen must add this final testimony. 

which may perhaps supply the climax you expect. I will quote the following account of the star 
Nova Perse/ verbatim from the pages of that eminent astronomical authority, Prof. Garrett P. 

On February 22, 1901 , a marvellous new star was discovered by Dr. Anderson, of 
Edinburgh, not very far from Algol. No star had been visible at that point before. 
Within twenty-four hours the stranger had become so bright that it outshone 
Capella. In a week or two it had visibly faded, and in the course of a few months it 
was hardly discernible with the naked eye." 

Return to Table of Contents 



In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with 
feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within the depths of the 
valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meet to be beheld. Rank is the herbage 
on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones of ruined 
palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble 
pavements laid by forgotten hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards 
leap little apes, while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly 
things without a name. 

Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls 
from which they fell. For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve 
nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation. 

At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and filled with 
weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the 
Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound. 

The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, saying, "I am old, 
and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of them who built these things of 
stone." And the Daemon replied, "I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am 
old. These beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I 
recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, for it was like to that of 
the little apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These 
beings of yesterday were called Man." 

So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently at a little 
ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Old Bugs 


Sheehan's Pool Room, which adorns one of the lesser alleys in the heart of Chicago's 
stockyard district, is not a nice place. Its air, freighted with a thousand odours such as 
Coleridge may have found at Cologne, too seldom knows the purifying rays of the sun; but 
fights for space with the acrid fumes of unnumbered cheap cigars and cigarettes which 
dangle from the coarse lips of unnumbered human animals that haunt the place day and 
night. But the popularity of Sheehan's remains unimpaired; and for this there is a reason — a 
reason obvious to anyone who will take the trouble to analyse the mixed stenches prevailing 
there. Over and above the fumes and sickening closeness rises an aroma once familiar 
throughout the land, but now happily banished to the back streets of life by the edict of a 
benevolent government — the aroma of strong, wicked whiskey — a precious kind of forbidden 
fruit indeed in this year of grace 1 950. 

Sheehan's is the acknowledged centre to Chicago's subterranean traffic in liquor and 
narcotics, and as such has a certain dignity which extends even to the unkempt attaches of 
the place; but there was until lately one who lay outside the pale of that dignity — one who 
shared the squalor and filth, but not the importance, of Sheehan's. He was called "Old Bugs", 
and was the most disreputable object in a disreputable environment. What he had once been, 
many tried to guess; for his language and mode of utterance when intoxicated to a certain 
degree were such as to excite wonderment; but what he was, presented less difficulty — for 
"Old Bugs", in superlative degree, epitomised the pathetic species known as the "bum" or the 
"down-and-outer". Whence he had come, no one could tell. One night he had burst wildly into 
Sheehan's, foaming at the mouth and screaming for whiskey and hasheesh; and having been 
supplied in exchange for a promise to perform odd jobs, had hung about ever since, mopping 
floors, cleaning cuspidors and glasses, and attending to an hundred similar menial duties in 
exchange for the drink and drugs which were necessary to keep him alive and sane. 

He talked but little, and usually in the common jargon of the underworld; but occasionally, 
when inflamed by an unusually generous dose of crude whiskey, would burst forth into strings 
of incomprehensible polysyllables and snatches of sonorous prose and verse which led 
certain habitues to conjecture that he had seen better days. One steady patron — a bank 
defaulter under cover — came to converse with him quite regularly, and from the tone of his 
discourse ventured the opinion that he had been a writer or professor in his day. But the only 
tangible clue to Old Bugs' past was a faded photograph which he constantly carried about 
with him — the photograph of a young woman of noble and beautiful features. This he would 
sometimes draw from his tattered pocket, carefully unwrap from its covering of tissue paper, 
and gaze upon for hours with an expression of ineffable sadness and tenderness. It was not 
the portrait of one whom an underworld denizen would be likely to know, but of a lady of 
breeding and quality, garbed in the quaint attire of thirty years before. Old Bugs himself 
seemed also to belong to the past, for his nondescript clothing bore every hallmark of 
antiquity. He was a man of immense height, probably more than six feet, though his stooping 
shoulders sometimes belied this fact. His hair, a dirty white and falling out in patches, was 
never combed; and over his lean face grew a mangy stubble of coarse beard which seemed 
always to remain at the bristling stage — never shaven — yet never long enough to form a 
respectable set of whiskers. His features had perhaps been noble once, but were now 
seamed with the ghastly effects of terrible dissipation. At one time — probably in middle life — 
he had evidently been grossly fat; but now he was horribly lean, the purple flesh hanging in 

loose pouches under his bleary eyes and upon his cheeks. Altogether, Old Bugs was not 
pleasing to look upon. 

The disposition of Old Bugs was as odd as his aspect. Ordinarily he was true to the derelict 
type — ready to do anything for a nickel or a dose of whiskey or hasheesh — but at rare 
intervals he shewed the traits which earned him his name. Then he would try to straighten up, 
and a certain fire would creep into the sunken eyes. His demeanour would assume an 
unwonted grace and even dignity; and the sodden creatures around him would sense 
something of superiority — something which made them less ready to give the usual kicks and 
cuffs to the poor butt and drudge. At these times he would shew a sardonic humour and make 
remarks which the folk of Sheehan's deemed foolish and irrational. But the spells would soon 
pass, and once more Old Bugs would resume his eternal floor-scrubbing and cuspidor- 
cleaning. But for one thing Old Bugs would have been an ideal slave to the establishment — 
and that one thing was his conduct when young men were introduced for their first drink. The 
old man would then rise from the floor in anger and excitement, muttering threats and 
warnings, and seeking to dissuade the novices from embarking upon their course of "seeing 
life as it is". He would sputter and fume, exploding into sesquipedalian admonitions and 
strange oaths, and animated by a frightful earnestness which brought a shudder to more than 
one drug-racked mind in the crowded room. But after a time his alcohol-enfeebled brain would 
wander from the subject, and with a foolish grin he would turn once more to his mop or 

I do not think that many of Sheehan's regular patrons will ever forget the day that young Alfred 
Trever came. He was rather a "find" — a rich and high-spirited youth who would "go the limit" in 
anything he undertook — at least, that was the verdict of Pete Schultz, Sheehan's "runner", 
who had come across the boy at Lawrence College, in the small town of Appleton, Wisconsin. 
Trever was the son of prominent parents in Appleton. His father, Karl Trever, was an attorney 
and citizen of distinction, whilst his mother had made an enviable reputation as a poetess 
under her maiden name of Eleanor Wing. Alfred was himself a scholar and poet of distinction, 
though cursed with a certain childish irresponsibility which made him an ideal prey for 
Sheehan's runner. He was blond, handsome, and spoiled; vivacious and eager to taste the 
several forms of dissipation about which he had read and heard. At Lawrence he had been 
prominent in the mock-fraternity of "Tappa Tappa Keg", where he was the wildest and merriest 
of the wild and merry young roysterers; but this immature, collegiate frivolity did not satisfy 
him. He knew deeper vices through books, and he now longed to know them at first hand. 
Perhaps this tendency toward wildness had been stimulated somewhat by the repression to 
which he had been subjected at home; for Mrs. Trever had particular reason for training her 
only child with rigid severity. She had, in her own youth, been deeply and permanently 
impressed with the horror of dissipation by the case of one to whom she had for a time been 

Young Galpin, the fiance in question, had been one of Appleton's most remarkable sons. 
Attaining distinction as a boy through his wonderful mentality, he won vast fame at the 
University of Wisconsin, and at the age of twenty-three returned to Appleton to take up a 
professorship at Lawrence and to slip a diamond upon the finger of Appleton's fairest and 
most brilliant daughter. For a season all went happily, till without warning the storm burst. Evil 
habits, dating from a first drink taken years before in woodland seclusion, made themselves 
manifest in the young professor; and only by a hurried resignation did he escape a nasty 
prosecution for injury to the habits and morals of the pupils under his charge. His engagement 
broken, Galpin moved east to begin life anew; but before long, Appletonians heard of his 

dismissal in disgrace from New York University, wliere lie liad obtained an instructorsliip in 
English. Galpin now devoted his time to the library and lecture platform, preparing volumes 
and speeches on various subjects connected with belles lettres, and always shewing a genius 
so remarkable that it seemed as if the public must sometime pardon him for his past mistakes. 
His impassioned lectures in defence of Villon, Poe, Verlaine, and Oscar Wilde were applied to 
himself as well, and in the short Indian summer of his glory there was talk of a renewed 
engagement at a certain cultured home on Park Avenue. But then the blow fell. A final 
disgrace, compared to which the others had been as nothing, shattered the illusions of those 
who had come to believe in Galpin's reform; and the young man abandoned his name and 
disappeared from public view. Rumour now and then associated him with a certain "Consul 
Hasting" whose work for the stage and for motion-picture companies attracted a certain 
degree of attention because of its scholarly breadth and depth; but Hasting soon disappeared 
from the public eye, and Galpin became only a name for parents to quote in warning accents. 
Eleanor Wing soon celebrated her marriage to Karl Trever, a rising young lawyer, and of her 
former admirer retained only enough memory to dictate the naming of her only son, and the 
moral guidance of that handsome and headstrong youth. Now, in spite of all that guidance, 
Alfred Trever was at Sheehan's and about to take his first drink. 

"Boss," cried Schultz, as he entered the vile-smelling room with his young victim, "meet my 
friend Al Trever, bes' NT sport up at Lawrence — thas' 'n Appleton, Wis., y' know. Some swell 
guy, too — 's father's a big corp'ration lawyer up in his burg, 'n' 's mother's some lit'ry genius. 
He wants to see life as she is — wants to know what the real lightnin' juice tastes like — so jus' 
remember he's me friend an' treat 'im right." 

As the names Trever, Lawrence, and Appleton fell on the air, the loafers seemed to sense 
something unusual. Perhaps it was only some sound connected with the clicking balls of the 
pool tables or the rattling glasses that were brought from the cryptic regions in the rear — 
perhaps only that, plus some strange rustling of the dirty draperies at the one dingy window — 
but many thought that someone in the room had gritted his teeth and drawn a very sharp 

"Glad to know you, Sheehan," said Trever in a quiet, well-bred tone. "This is my first 
experience in a place like this, but I am a student of life, and don't want to miss any 
experience. There's poetry in this sort of thing, you know — or perhaps you don't know, but it's 
all the same." 

"Young feller," responded the proprietor, "ya come tuh th' nght place tuh see life. We got all 
kinds here — reel life an' a good time. The damn' government can try tuh make folks good ef it 
wants tuh, but it can't stop a feller from hittin' 'er up when he feels like it. Whaddya want, 
feller — booze, coke, or some other sorta dope? Yuh can't ask for nothin' we ain't got." 

Habitues say that it was at this point they noticed a cessation in the regular, monotonous 
strokes of the mop. 

"I want whiskey — good old-fashioned rye!" exclaimed Trever enthusiastically. "I'll tell you, I'm 
good and tired of water after reading of the merry bouts fellows used to have in the old days. I 
can't read an Anacreontic without watenng at the mouth — and it's something a lot stronger 
than water that my mouth waters for!" 

"Anacreontic — what 'n hell's that?" several hangers-on looked up as the young man went 
slightly beyond their depth. But the bank defaulter under cover explained to them that 
Anacreon was a gay old dog who lived many years ago and wrote about the fun he had when 
all the world was just like Sheehan's. 

"Let me see, Trever," continued the defaulter, "didn't Schultz say your motlier is a literary 
person, too?" 

"Yes, damn it," replied Trever, "but nothing like the old Teian! She's one of those dull, eternal 
moralisers that try to take all the joy out of life. Namby-pamby sort — ever heard of her? She 
writes under her maiden name of Eleanor Wing." 

Here it was that Old Bugs dropped his mop. 

"Well, here's yer stuff," announced Sheehan jovially as a tray of bottles and glasses was 
wheeled into the room. "Good old rye, an' as fiery as ya kin find anyw'eres in Chi'." 

The youth's eyes glistened and his nostrils curled at the fumes of the brownish fluid which an 
attendant was pouring out for him. It repelled him horribly, and revolted all his inherited 
delicacy; but his determination to taste life to the full remained with him, and he maintained a 
bold front. But before his resolution was put to the test, the unexpected Intervened. Old Bugs, 
springing up from the crouching position In which he had hitherto been, leaped at the youth 
and dashed from his hands the uplifted glass, almost simultaneously attacking the tray of 
bottles and glasses with his mop, and scattering the contents upon the floor in a confusion of 
odoriferous fluid and broken bottles and tumblers. Numbers of men, or things which had been 
men, dropped to the floor and began lapping at the puddles of spilled liquor, but most 
remained immovable, watching the unprecedented actions of the barroom drudge and 
derelict. Old Bugs straightened up before the astonished Trever, and in a mild and cultivated 
voice said, "Do not do this thing. I was like you once, and I did it. Now I am like — this." 

"What do you mean, you damned old fool?" shouted Trever. "What do you mean by interfering 
with a gentleman in his pleasures?" 

Sheehan, now recovering from his astonishment, advanced and laid a heavy hand on the old 
waif's shoulder. 

"This is the last time for you, old bird!" he exclaimed furiously. "When a gen'I'man wants tuh 
take a drink here, by God, he shall, without you interferin'. Now get th' hell outa here afore I 
kick hell outa ya." 

But Sheehan had reckoned without scientific knowledge of abnormal psychology and the 
effects of nervous stimulus. Old Bugs, obtaining a firmer hold on his mop, began to wield it 
like the javelin of a Macedonian hoplite, and soon cleared a considerable space around 
himself, meanwhile shouting various disconnected bits of quotation, among which was 
prominently repeated, "... the sons of Belial, blown with insolence and wine." 

The room became pandemonium, and men screamed and howled In fright at the sinister 
being they had aroused. Trever seemed dazed in the confusion, and shrank to the wall as the 
strife thickened. "He shall not drink! He shall not drink!" Thus roared Old Bugs as he seemed 
to run out of — or rise above — quotations. Policemen appeared at the door, attracted by the 
noise, but for a time they made no move to Intervene. Trever, now thoroughly terrified and 
cured forever of his desire to see life via the vice route, edged closer to the blue-coated 
newcomers. Could he but escape and catch a train for Appleton, he reflected, he would 
consider his education in dissipation quite complete. 

Then suddenly Old Bugs ceased to wield his javelin and stopped still — drawing himself up 
more erectly than any denizen of the place had ever seen him before. ''Ave, Caesar, moriturus 
te saluto!"he shouted, and dropped to the whiskey-reeking floor, never to rise again. 

Subsequent impressions will never leave the mind of young Trever. The picture is blurred, but 
ineradicable. Policemen ploughed a way through the crowd, questioning everyone closely 
both about the incident and about the dead figure on the floor. Sheehan especially did they 
ply with inquiries, yet without eliciting any information of value concerning Old Bugs. Then the 
bank defaulter remembered the picture, and suggested that it be viewed and filed for 
identification at police headquarters. An officer bent reluctantly over the loathsome glassy- 
eyed form and found the tissue-wrapped cardboard, which he passed around among the 

"Some chicken!" leered a drunken man as he viewed the beautiful face, but those who were 
sober did not leer, looking with respect and abashment at the delicate and spiritual features. 
No one seemed able to place the subject, and all wondered that the drug-degraded derelict 
should have such a portrait in his possession — that is, all but the bank defaulter, who was 
meanwhile eyeing the intruding bluecoats rather uneasily. He had seen a little deeper beneath 
Old Bugs' mask of utter degradation. 

Then the picture was passed to Trever, and a change came over the youth. After the first start, 
he replaced the tissue wrapping around the portrait, as if to shield it from the sordidness of 
the place. Then he gazed long and searchingly at the figure on the floor, noting its great 
height, and the aristocratic cast of features which seemed to appear now that the wretched 
flame of life had flickered out. No, he said hastily, as the question was put to him, he did not 
know the subject of the picture. It was so old, he added, that no one now could be expected to 
recognise it. 

But Alfred Trever did not speak the truth, as many guessed when he offered to take charge of 
the body and secure its interment in Appleton. Over the library mantel in his home hung the 
exact replica of that picture, and all his life he had known and loved its original. 

For the gentle and noble features were those of his own mother. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Transition of Juan Romero 


Of the events which took place at the Norton Mine on October 18th and 19th, 1894, I have no 
desire to speak. A sense of duty to science is all that impels me to recall, in these last years of 
my life, scenes and happenings fraught with a terror doubly acute because I cannot wholly 
define it. But I believe that before I die I should tell what I know of the — shall I say transition — 
of Juan Romero. 

My name and origin need not be related to posterity; in fact, I fancy it is better that they should 
not be, for when a man suddenly migrates to the States or the Colonies, he leaves his past 
behind him. Besides, what I once was is not in the least relevant to my narrative; save 
perhaps the fact that during my service in India I was more at home amongst white-bearded 
native teachers than amongst my brother-officers. I had delved not a little into odd Eastern 
lore when overtaken by the calamities which brought about my new life in America's vast 
West — a life wherein I found it well to accept a name — my present one — which is very 
common and carries no meaning. 

In the summer and autumn of 1894 I dwelt in the drear expanses of the Cactus Mountains, 
employed as a common labourer at the celebrated Norton Mine; whose discovery by an aged 
prospector some years before had turned the surrounding region from a nearly unpeopled 
waste to a seething cauldron of sordid life. A cavern of gold, lying deep below a mountain 
lake, had enriched its venerable finder beyond his wildest dreams, and now formed the seat 
of extensive tunnelling operations on the part of the corporation to which it had finally been 
sold. Additional grottoes had been found, and the yield of yellow metal was exceedingly great; 
so that a mighty and heterogeneous army of miners toiled day and night in the numerous 
passages and rock hollows. The Superintendent, a Mr. Arthur, often discussed the singularity 
of the local geological formations; speculating on the probable extent of the chain of caves, 
and estimating the future of the titanic mining enterprise. He considered the auriferous 
cavities the result of the action of water, and believed the last of them would soon be opened. 

It was not long after my arrival and employment that Juan Romero came to the Norton Mine. 
One of a large herd of unkempt Mexicans attracted thither from the neighbouring country, he 
at first commanded attention only because of his features; which though plainly of the Red 
Indian type, were yet remarkable for their light colour and refined conformation, being vastly 
unlike those of the average "Greaser" or Piute of the locality. It is curious that although he 
differed so widely from the mass of Hispanicised and tribal Indians, Romero gave not the least 
impression of Caucasian blood. It was not the Castilian conquistador or the American pioneer, 
but the ancient and noble Aztec, whom imagination called to view when the silent peon would 
rise in the early morning and gaze in fascination at the sun as it crept above the eastern hills, 
meanwhile stretching out his arms to the orb as if in the performance of some rite whose 
nature he did not himself comprehend. But save for his face, Romero was not in any way 
suggestive of nobility. Ignorant and dirty, he was at home amongst the other brown-skinned 
Mexicans; having come (so I was afterward told) from the very lowest sort of surroundings. 
He had been found as a child in a crude mountain hut, the only survivor of an epidemic which 
had stalked lethally by. Near the hut, close to a rather unusual rock f issure, had lain two 
skeletons, newly picked by vultures, and presumably forming the sole remains of his parents. 
No one recalled their identity, and they were soon forgotten by the many. Indeed, the 
crumbling of the adobe hut and the closing of the rock fissure by a subsequent avalanche had 

helped to efface even the scene from recollection. Reared by a Mexican cattle-thief who had 
given him his name, Juan differed little from his fellows. 

The attachment which Romero manifested toward me was undoubtedly commenced through 
the quaint and ancient Hindoo ring which I wore when not engaged in active labour. Of its 
nature, and manner of coming into my possession, I cannot speak. It was my last link with a 
chapter of life forever closed, and I valued it highly. Soon I observed that the odd-looking 
Mexican was likewise interested; eyeing it with an expression that banished all suspicion of 
mere covetousness. Its hoary hieroglyphs seemed to stir some faint recollection in his 
untutored but active mind, though he could not possibly have beheld their like before. Within a 
few weeks after his advent, Romero was like a faithful servant to me; this notwithstanding the 
fact that I was myself but an ordinary miner. Our conversation was necessarily limited. He 
knew but a few words of English, while I found my Oxonian Spanish was something quite 
different from the patois of the peon of New Spain. 

The event which I am about to relate was unheralded by long premonitions. Though the man 
Romero had interested me, and though my ring had affected him peculiarly, I think that neither 
of us had any expectation of what was to follow when the great blast was set off. Geological 
considerations had dictated an extension of the mine directly downward from the deepest part 
of the subterranean area; and the belief of the Superintendent that only solid rock would be 
encountered, had led to the placing of a prodigious charge of dynamite. With this work 
Romero and I were not connected, wherefore our first knowledge of extraordinary conditions 
came from others. The charge, heavier perhaps than had been estimated, had seemed to 
shake the entire mountain. Windows in shanties on the slope outside were shattered by the 
shock, whilst miners throughout the nearer passages were knocked from their feet. Jewel 
Lake, which lay above the scene of action, heaved as in a tempest. Upon investigation it was 
seen that a new abyss yawned indefinitely below the seat of the blast; an abyss so monstrous 
that no handy line might fathom it, nor any lamp illuminate it. Baffled, the excavators sought a 
conference with the Superintendent, who ordered great lengths of rope to be taken to the pit, 
and spliced and lowered without cessation till a bottom might be discovered. 

Shortly afterward the pale-faced workmen apprised the Superintendent of their failure. Firmly 
though respectfully they signified their refusal to revisit the chasm, or indeed to work further in 
the mine until it might be sealed. Something beyond their experience was evidently 
confronting them, for so far as they could ascertain, the void below was infinite. The 
Superintendent did not reproach them. Instead, he pondered deeply, and made many plans 
for the following day. The night shift did not go on that evening. 

At two in the morning a lone coyote on the mountain began to howl dismally. From 
somewhere within the works a dog barked in answer; either to the coyote — or to something 
else. A storm was gathering around the peaks of the range, and weirdly shaped clouds 
scudded horribly across the blurred patch of celestial light which marked a gibbous moon's 
attempts to shine through many layers of cirro-stratus vapours. It was Romero's voice, coming 
from the bunk above, that awakened me; a voice excited and tense with some vague 
expectation I could not understand: 

"jMadre de Dios!—el sonido—ese sonido—joiga Vd! ilo oye Vd?—Senor, THAT SOUND!" 

I listened, wondering what sound he meant. The coyote, the dog, the storm, all were audible; 
the last named now gaining ascendancy as the wind shrieked more and more frantically. 
Flashes of lightning were visible through the bunk-house window. I questioned the nervous 
Mexican, repeating the sounds I had heard: 

"^El coyote?— ^el perro?—iel viento?" 

But Romero did not reply. Then he commenced whispering as in awe: 

"EIritmo, Senor—el ritmo de la f/erra— THAT THROB DOWN IN THE GROUND!" 

And now I also heard; heard and shivered and without knowing why. Deep, deep, below me 
was a sound — a rhythm, just as the peon had said — which, though exceedingly faint, yet 
dominated even the dog, the coyote, and the increasing tempest. To seek to describe it were 
useless — for it was such that no description is possible. Perhaps it was like the pulsing of the 
engines far down in a great liner, as sensed from the deck, yet it was not so mechanical; not 
so devoid of the element of life and consciousness. Of all its qualities, remoteness in the earth 
most impressed me. To my mind rushed fragments of a passage in Joseph Glanvill which Poe 
has quoted with tremendous effect — 

" — the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a 
depth in them greater than the well of Democritus." 

Suddenly Romero leaped from his bunk; pausing before me to gaze at the strange ring on my 
hand, which glistened queerly in every flash of lightning, and then staring intently in the 
direction of the mine shaft. I also rose, and both stood motionless for a time, straining our 
ears as the uncanny rhythm seemed more and more to take on a vital quality. Then without 
apparent volition we began to move toward the door, whose rattling in the gale held a 
comforting suggestion of earthly reality. The chanting in the depths — for such the sound now 
seemed to be — grew in volume and distinctness; and we felt irresistibly urged out into the 
storm and thence to the gaping blackness of the shaft. 

We encountered no living creature, for the men of the night shift had been released from duty, 
and were doubtless at the Dry Gulch settlement pouring sinister rumours into the ear of some 
drowsy bartender. From the watchman's cabin, however, gleamed a small square of yellow 
light like a guardian eye. I dimly wondered how the rhythmic sound had affected the 
watchman; but Romero was moving more swiftly now, and I followed without pausing. 

As we descended the shaft, the sound beneath grew definitely composite. It struck me as 
horribly like a sort of Oriental ceremony, with beating of drums and chanting of many voices. I 
have, as you are aware, been much in India. Romero and I moved without material hesitancy 
through drifts and down ladders; ever toward the thing that allured us, yet ever with a pitifully 
helpless fear and reluctance. At one time I fancied I had gone mad — this was when, on 
wondering how our way was lighted In the absence of lamp or candle, I realised that the 
ancient ring on my finger was glowing with eerie radiance, diffusing a pallid lustre through the 
damp, heavy air around. 

It was without warning that Romero, after clambering down one of the many rude ladders, 
broke into a run and left me alone. Some new and wild note in the drumming and chanting, 
perceptible but slightly to me, had acted on him in startling fashion; and with a wild outcry he 
forged ahead unguided in the cavern's gloom. I heard his repeated shrieks before me, as he 
stumbled awkwardly along the level places and scrambled madly down the rickety ladders. 
And frightened as I was, I yet retained enough of perception to note that his speech, when 
articulate, was not of any sort known to me. Harsh but Impressive polysyllables had replaced 
the customary mixture of bad Spanish and worse English, and of these only the oft repeated 
cry "Huitzilopotchli" seemed in the least familiar. Later I definitely placed that word in the 
works of a great historian — and shuddered when the association came to me. 

The climax of that awful night was composite but fairly brief, beginning just as I reached the 
final cavern of the journey. Out of the darkness immediately ahead burst a final shriek from 
the Mexican, which was joined by such a chorus of uncouth sound as I could never hear 
again and survive. In that moment it seemed as if all the hidden terrors and monstrosities of 
earth had become articulate in an effort to overwhelm the human race. Simultaneously the 
light from my ring was extinguished, and I saw a new light glimmering from lower space but a 
few yards ahead of me. I had arrived at the abyss, which was now redly aglow, and which had 
evidently swallowed up the unfortunate Romero. Advancing, I peered over the edge of that 
chasm which no line could fathom, and which was now a pandemonium of flickering flame 
and hideous uproar. At first I beheld nothing but a seething blur of luminosity; but then 
shapes, all infinitely distant, began to detach themselves from the confusion, and I saw — was 
it Juan Romero? — but God! I dare not tell you what I saw! . . . Some power from heaven, 
coming to my aid, obliterated both sights and sounds in such a crash as may be heard when 
two universes collide in space. Chaos supervened, and I knew the peace of oblivion. 

I hardly know how to continue, since conditions so singular are involved; but I will do my best, 
not even trying to differentiate betwixt the real and the apparent. When I awaked, I was safe in 
my bunk and the red glow of dawn was visible at the window. Some distance away the lifeless 
body of Juan Romero lay upon a table, surrounded by a group of men, including the camp 
doctor. The men were discussing the strange death of the Mexican as he lay asleep; a death 
seemingly connected in some way with the terrible bolt of lightning which had struck and 
shaken the mountain. No direct cause was evident, and an autopsy failed to shew any reason 
why Romero should not be living. Snatches of conversation indicated beyond a doubt that 
neither Romero nor I had left the bunkhouse during the night; that neither had been awake 
during the frightful storm which had passed over the Cactus range. That storm, said men who 
had ventured down the mine shaft, had caused extensive caving in, and had completely 
closed the deep abyss which had created so much apprehension the day before. When I 
asked the watchman what sounds he had heard prior to the mighty thunderbolt, he mentioned 
a coyote, a dog, and the snarling mountain wind — nothing more. Nor do I doubt his word. 

Upon the resumption of work Superintendent Arthur called on some especially dependable 
men to make a few investigations around the spot where the gulf had appeared. Though 
hardly eager, they obeyed; and a deep boring was made. Results were very curious. The roof 
of the void, as seen whilst it was open, was not by any means thick; yet now the drills of the 
investigators met what appeared to be a limitless extent of solid rock. Finding nothing else, 
not even gold, the Superintendent abandoned his attempts; but a perplexed look occasionally 
steals over his countenance as he sits thinking at his desk. 

One other thing is curious. Shortly after waking on that morning after the storm, I noticed the 
unaccountable absence of my Hindoo ring from my finger. I had prized it greatly, yet 
nevertheless felt a sensation of relief at its disappearance. If one of my fellow-miners 
appropriated it, he must have been quite clever in disposing of his booty, for despite 
advertisements and a police search the ring was never seen again. Somehow I doubt if it was 
stolen by mortal hands, for many strange things were taught me in India. 

My opinion of my whole experience varies from time to time. In broad daylight, and at most 
seasons I am apt to think the greater part of it a mere dream; but sometimes in the autumn, 
about two in the morning when winds and animals howl dismally, there comes from 
inconceivable depths below a damnable suggestion of rhythmical throbbing . . . and I feel that 
the transition of Juan Romero was a terrible one indeed. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The White Ship 


I am Basil Elton, keeper of the North Point light that my father and grandfather kept before 
me. Far from the shore stands the grey lighthouse, above sunken slimy rocks that are seen 
when the tide is low, but unseen when the tide is high. Past that beacon for a century have 
swept the majestic barques of the seven seas. In the days of my grandfather there were 
many; in the days of my father not so many; and now there are so few that I sometimes feel 
strangely alone, as though I were the last man on our planet. 

From far shores came those white-sailed argosies of old; from far Eastern shores where 
warm suns shine and sweet odours linger about strange gardens and gay temples. The old 
captains of the sea came often to my grandfather and told him of these things, which in turn 
he told to my father, and my father told to me in the long autumn evenings when the wind 
howled eerily from the East. And I have read more of these things, and of many things 
besides, in the books men gave me when I was young and filled with wonder. 

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean. 
Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent. All 
my days have I watched it and listened to it, and I know it well. At first it told to me only the 
plain little tales of calm beaches and near ports, but with the years it grew more friendly and 
spoke of other things; of things more strange and more distant in space and in time. 
Sometimes at twilight the grey vapours of the horizon have parted to grant me glimpses of the 
ways beyond; and sometimes at night the deep waters of the sea have grown clear and 
phosphorescent, to grant me glimpses of the ways beneath. And these glimpses have been 
as often of the ways that were and the ways that might be, as of the ways that are; for ocean 
is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time. 

Out of the South it was that the White Ship used to come when the moon was full and high in 
the heavens. Out of the South it would glide very smoothly and silently over the sea. And 
whether the sea was rough or calm, and whether the wind was friendly or adverse, it would 
always glide smoothly and silently, its sails distant and its long strange tiers of oars moving 
rhythmically. One night I espied upon the deck a man, bearded and robed, and he seemed to 
beckon me to embark for fair unknown shores. Many times aften/vard I saw him under the full 
moon, and ever did he beckon me. 

Very brightly did the moon shine on the night I answered the call, and I walked out over the 
waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke 
a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft 
songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that 
full, mellow moon. 

And when the day dawned, rosy and effulgent, I beheld the green shore of far lands, bright 
and beautiful, and to me unknown. Up from the sea rose lordly terraces of verdure, tree- 
studded, and shewing here and there the gleaming white roofs and colonnades of strange 
temples. As we drew nearer the green shore the bearded man told me of that land, the Land 
of Zar, where dwell all the dreams and thoughts of beauty that come to men once and then 
are forgotten. And when I looked upon the terraces again I saw that what he said was true, for 
among the sights before me were many things I had once seen through the mists beyond the 
horizon and in the phosphorescent depths of ocean. There too were forms and fantasies more 

splendid than any I had ever known; the visions of young poets who died in want before the 
world could learn of what they had seen and dreamed. But we did not set foot upon the 
sloping meadows of Zar, for it is told that he who treads them may nevermore return to his 
native shore. 

As the White Ship sailed silently away from the templed terraces of Zar, we beheld on the 
distant horizon ahead the spires of a mighty city; and the bearded man said to me: "This is 
Thalarion, the City of a Thousand Wonders, wherein reside all those mysteries that man has 
striven in vain to fathom." And I looked again, at closer range, and saw that the city was 
greater than any city I had known or dreamed of before. Into the sky the spires of its temples 
reached, so that no man might behold their peaks; and far back beyond the horizon stretched 
the grim, grey walls, over which one might spy only a few roofs, weird and ominous, yet 
adorned with rich friezes and alluring sculptures. I yearned mightily to enter this fascinating 
yet repellent city, and besought the bearded man to land me at the stone pier by the huge 
carven gate Akariel; but he gently denied my wish, saying: "Into Thalarion, the City of a 
Thousand Wonders, many have passed but none returned. Therein walk only daemons and 
mad things that are no longer men, and the streets are white with the unburied bones of those 
who have looked upon the eidolon Lathi, that reigns over the city." So the White Ship sailed 
on past the walls of Thalarion, and followed for many days a southward-flying bird, whose 
glossy plumage matched the sky out of which it had appeared. 

Then came we to a pleasant coast gay with blossoms of every hue, where as far inland as we 
could see basked lovely groves and radiant arbours beneath a meridian sun. From bowers 
beyond our view came bursts of song and snatches of lyric harmony, interspersed with faint 
laughter so delicious that I urged the rowers onward in my eagerness to reach the scene. And 
the bearded man spoke no word, but watched me as we approached the lily-lined shore. 
Suddenly a wind blowing from over the flowery meadows and leafy woods brought a scent at 
which I trembled. The wind grew stronger, and the air was filled with the lethal, charnel odour 
of plague-stricken towns and uncovered cemeteries. And as we sailed madly away from that 
damnable coast the bearded man spoke at last, saying: "This is Xura, the Land of Pleasures 

So once more the White Ship followed the bird of heaven, over warm blessed seas fanned by 
caressing, aromatic breezes. Day after day and night after night did we sail, and when the 
moon was full we would listen to soft songs of the oarsmen, sweet as on that distant night 
when we sailed away from my far native land. And it was by moonlight that we anchored at 
last in the harbour of Sona-Nyl, which is guarded by twin headlands of crystal that rise from 
the sea and meet in a resplendent arch. This is the Land of Fancy, and we walked to the 
verdant shore upon a golden bridge of moonbeams. 

In the Land of Sona-Nyl there is neither time nor space, neither suffering nor death; and there 
I dwelt for many aeons. Green are the groves and pastures, bright and fragrant the flowers, 
blue and musical the streams, clear and cool the fountains, and stately and gorgeous the 
temples, castles, and cities of Sona-Nyl. Of that land there is no bound, for beyond each vista 
of beauty rises another more beautiful. Over the countryside and amidst the splendour of 
cities rove at will the happy folk, of whom all are gifted with unmarred grace and unalloyed 
happiness. For the aeons that I dwelt there I wandered blissfully through gardens where 
quaint pagodas peep from pleasing clumps of bushes, and where the white walks are 
bordered with delicate blossoms. I climbed gentle hills from whose summits I could see 
entrancing panoramas of loveliness, with steepled towns nestling in verdant valleys, and with 
the golden domes of gigantic cities glittering on the infinitely distant horizon. And I viewed by 

moonlight the sparkling sea, the crystal headlands, and the placid harbour wherein lay 
anchored the White Ship. 

It was against the full moon one night In the immemorial year of Tharp that I saw outlined the 
beckoning form of the celestial bird, and felt the first stirrings of unrest. Then I spoke with the 
bearded man, and told him of my new yearnings to depart for remote Cathuria, which no man 
hath seen, but which all believe to lie beyond the basalt pillars of the West. It is the Land of 
Hope, and in it shine the perfect ideals of all that we know elsewhere; or at least so men 
relate. But the bearded man said to me: "Beware of those perilous seas wherein men say 
Cathuria lies. In Sona-Nyl there is no pain nor death, but who can tell what lies beyond the 
basalt pillars of the West?" Natheless at the next full moon I boarded the White Ship, and with 
the reluctant bearded man left the happy harbour for untravelled seas. 

And the bird of heaven flew before, and led us toward the basalt pillars of the West, but this 
time the oarsmen sang no soft songs under the full moon. In my mind I would often picture the 
unknown Land of Cathuria with its splendid groves and palaces, and would wonder what new 
delights there awaited me. "Cathuria," I would say to myself, "is the abode of gods and the 
land of unnumbered cities of gold. Its forests are of aloe and sandalwood, even as the 
fragrant groves of Camorin, and among the trees flutter gay birds sweet with song. On the 
green and flowery mountains of Cathuria stand temples of pink marble, rich with carven and 
painted glories, and having in their courtyards cool fountains of silver, where purl with 
ravishing music the scented waters that come from the grotto-born river Narg. And the cities 
of Cathuria are cinctured with golden walls, and their pavements also are of gold. In the 
gardens of these cities are strange orchids, and perfumed lakes whose beds are of coral and 
amber. At night the streets and the gardens are lit with gay lanthorns fashioned from the 
three-coloured shell of the tortoise, and here resound the soft notes of the singer and the 
lutanist. And the houses of the cities of Cathuria are all palaces, each built over a fragrant 
canal bearing the waters of the sacred Narg. Of marble and porphyry are the houses, and 
roofed with glittering gold that reflects the rays of the sun and enhances the splendour of the 
cities as blissful gods view them from the distant peaks. Fairest of all is the palace of the great 
monarch Dorieb, whom some say to be a demigod and others a god. High is the palace of 
Dorieb, and many are the turrets of marble upon its walls. In its wide halls many multitudes 
assemble, and here hang the trophies of the ages. And the roof is of pure gold, set upon tall 
pillars of ruby and azure, and having such carven figures of gods and heroes that he who 
looks up to those heights seems to gaze upon the living Olympus. And the floor of the palace 
is of glass, under which flow the cunningly lighted waters of the Narg, gay with gaudy fish not 
known beyond the bounds of lovely Cathuria." 

Thus would I speak to myself of Cathuria, but ever would the bearded man warn me to turn 
back to the happy shores of Sona-Nyl; for Sona-Nyl is known of men, while none hath ever 
beheld Cathuria. 

And on the thirty-first day that we followed the bird, we beheld the basalt pillars of the West. 
Shrouded in mist they were, so that no man might peer beyond them or see their summits — 
which indeed some say reach even to the heavens. And the bearded man again implored me 
to turn back, but I heeded him not; for from the mists beyond the basalt pillars I fancied there 
came the notes of singer and lutanist; sweeter than the sweetest songs of Sona-Nyl, and 
sounding mine own praises; the praises of me, who had voyaged far under the full moon and 
dwelt in the Land of Fancy. 

So to the sound of melody the White Ship sailed into the mist betwixt the basalt pillars of the 
West. And when the music ceased and the mist lifted, we beheld not the Land of Cathuria, but 

a swift-rushing resistless sea, over wliicli our lielpless barque was borne toward some 
unknown goal. Soon to our ears came the distant thunder of falling waters, and to our eyes 
appeared on the far horizon ahead the titanic spray of a monstrous cataract, wherein the 
oceans of the world drop down to abysmal nothingness. Then did the bearded man say to me 
with tears on his cheek: "We have rejected the beautiful Land of Sona-Nyl, which we may 
never behold again. The gods are greater than men, and they have conquered." And 1 closed 
my eyes before the crash that I knew would come, shutting out the sight of the celestial bird 
which flapped its mocking blue wings over the brink of the torrent. 

Out of that crash came darkness, and I heard the shrieking of men and of things which were 
not men. From the East tempestuous winds arose, and chilled me as I crouched on the slab 
of damp stone which had risen beneath my feet. Then as I heard another crash I opened my 
eyes and beheld myself upon the platform of that lighthouse from whence I had sailed so 
many aeons ago. In the darkness below there loomed the vast blurred outlines of a vessel 
breaking up on the cruel rocks, and as I glanced out over the waste I saw that the light had 
failed for the first time since my grandfather had assumed its care. 

And in the later watches of the night, when I went within the tower, I saw on the wall a 
calendar which still remained as when I had left it at the hour I sailed away. With the dawn I 
descended the tower and looked for wreckage upon the rocks, but what I found was only this: 
a strange dead bird whose hue was as of the azure sky, and a single shattered spar, of a 
whiteness greater than that of the wave-tips or of the mountain snow. 

And thereafter the ocean told me its secrets no more; and though many times since has the 
moon shone full and high in the heavens, the White Ship from the South came never again. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Doom That Came to Sarnath 


There is in the land of Mnar a vast still lake that is fed by no stream and out of which no 
stream flows. Ten thousand years ago there stood by its shore the mighty city of Sarnath, but 
Sarnath stands there no more. 

It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of 
Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the grey stone city of lb, 
which was old as the lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and 
ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely 
fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the beings of lb were in hue 
as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, 
flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice. It is also written that they descended 
one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and grey stone city lb. However 
this may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol chiselled in the likeness 
of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when the moon was 
gibbous. And it Is written In the papyrus of llarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and 
thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these 
beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows little of the 
very ancient living things. 

After many aeons men came to the land of Mnar; dark shepherd folk with their fleecy flocks, 
who built Thraa, llarnek, and Kadatheron on the winding river Ai. And certain tribes, more 
hardy than the rest, pushed on to the border of the lake and built Sarnath at a spot where 
precious metals were found In the earth. 

Not far from the grey city of lb did the wandering tribes lay the first stones of Sarnath, and at 
the beings of lb they marvelled greatly. But with their marvelling was mixed hate, for they 
thought it not meet that beings of such aspect should walk about the world of men at dusk. 
Nor did they like the strange sculptures upon the grey monoliths of lb, for those sculptures 
were terrible with great antiquity. Why the beings and the sculptures lingered so late in the 
world, even until the coming of men, none can tell; unless it was because the land of Mnar is 
very still, and remote from most other lands both of waking and of dream. 

As the men of Sarnath beheld more of the beings of lb their hate grew, and it was not less 
because they found the beings weak, and soft as jelly to the touch of stones and spears and 
arrows. So one day the young warriors, the slingers and the spearmen and the bowmen, 
marched against lb and slew all the inhabitants thereof, pushing the queer bodies into the 
lake with long spears, because they did not wish to touch them. And because they did not like 
the grey sculptured monoliths of lb they cast these also into the lake; wondering from the 
greatness of the labour how ever the stones were brought from afar, as they must have been, 
since there is naught like them in all the land of Mnar or In the lands adjacent. 

Thus of the very ancient city of lb was nothing spared save the sea-green stone Idol chiselled 
in the likeness of Bokrug, the water-lizard. This the young warriors took back with them to 
Sarnath as a symbol of conquest over the old gods and beings of lb, and a sign of leadership 
in Mnar. But on the night after it was set up in the temple a terrible thing must have happened, 
for weird lights were seen over the lake, and in the morning the people found the idol gone, 
and the high-priest Taran-lsh lying dead, as from some fear unspeakable. And before he died. 

Taran-lsh had scrawled upon the altar of chrysolite with coarse shaky strokes the sign of 

After Taran-lsh there were many high-priests In Sarnath, but never was the sea-green stone 
idol found. And many centuries came and went, wherein Sarnath prospered exceedingly, so 
that only priests and old women remembered what Taran-lsh had scrawled upon the altar of 
chrysolite. Betwixt Sarnath and the city of llarnek arose a caravan route, and the precious 
metals from the earth were exchanged for other metals and rare cloths and jewels and books 
and tools for artificers and all things of luxury that are known to the people who dwell along 
the winding river Ai and beyond. So Sarnath waxed mighty and learned and beautiful, and 
sent forth conquering armies to subdue the neighbouring cities; and in time there sate upon a 
throne in Sarnath the kings of all the land of Mnar and of many lands adjacent. 

The wonder of the world and the pride of all mankind was Sarnath the magnificent. Of 
polished desert-quarried marble were its walls, in height 300 cubits and in breadth 75, so that 
chariots might pass each other as men drave them along the top. For full 500 stadia did they 
run, being open only on the side toward the lake; where a green stone sea-wall kept back the 
waves that rose oddly once a year at the festival of the destroying of lb. In Sarnath were fifty 
streets from the lake to the gates of the caravans, and fifty more intersecting them. With onyx 
were they paved, save those whereon the horses and camels and elephants trod, which were 
paved with granite. And the gates of Sarnath were as many as the landward ends of the 
streets, each of bronze, and flanked by the figures of lions and elephants carven from some 
stone no longer known among men. The houses of Sarnath were of glazed brick and 
chalcedony, each having its walled garden and crystal lakelet. With strange art were they 
builded, for no other city had houses like them; and travellers from Thraa and llarnek and 
Kadatheron marvelled at the shining domes wherewith they were surmounted. 

But more marvellous still were the palaces and the temples, and the gardens made by Zokkar 
the olden king. There were many palaces, the least of which were mightier than any in Thraa 
or llarnek or Kadatheron. So high were they that one within might sometimes fancy himself 
beneath only the sky; yet when lighted with torches dipt in the oil of Dothur their walls shewed 
vast paintings of kings and armies, of a splendour at once inspiring and stupefying to the 
beholder. Many were the pillars of the palaces, all of tinted marble, and carven into designs of 
surpassing beauty. And in most of the palaces the floors were mosaics of beryl and lapis-lazuli 
and sardonyx and carbuncle and other choice materials, so disposed that the beholder might 
fancy himself walking over beds of the rarest flowers. And there were likewise fountains, 
which cast scented waters about in pleasing jets arranged with cunning art. Outshining all 
others was the palace of the kings of Mnar and of the lands adjacent. On a pair of golden 
crouching lions rested the throne, many steps above the gleaming floor. And it was wrought of 
one piece of ivory, though no man lives who knows whence so vast a piece could have come. 
In that palace there were also many galleries, and many amphitheatres where lions and men 
and elephants battled at the pleasure of the kings. Sometimes the amphitheatres were 
flooded with water conveyed from the lake in mighty aqueducts, and then were enacted 
stirring sea-fights, or combats betwixt swimmers and deadly marine things. 

Lofty and amazing were the seventeen tower-like temples of Sarnath, fashioned of a bright 
multi-coloured stone not known elsewhere. A full thousand cubits high stood the greatest 
among them, wherein the high-priests dwelt with a magnificence scarce less than that of the 
kings. On the ground were halls as vast and splendid as those of the palaces; where gathered 
throngs in worship of Zo-Kalar and Tamash and Lobon, the chief gods of Sarnath, whose 
incense-enveloped shrines were as the thrones of monarchs. Not like the eikons of other 

gods were those of Zo-Kalar and Tamash and Lobon, for so close to life were they that one 
might swear the graceful bearded gods themselves sate on the ivory thrones. And up 
unending steps of shining zircon was the tower-chamber, wherefrom the high-priests lool<ed 
out over the city and the plains and the lal<e by day; and at the cryptic moon and significant 
stars and planets, and their reflections in the lake, by night. Here was done the very secret 
and ancient rite in detestation of Bokrug, the water-lizard, and here rested the altar of 
chrysolite which bore the DOOM-scrawl of Taran-lsh. 

Wonderful likewise were the gardens made by Zokkar the olden king. In the centre of Sarnath 
they lay, covering a great space and encircled by a high wall. And they were surmounted by a 
mighty dome of glass, through which shone the sun and moon and stars and planets when it 
was clear, and from which were hung fulgent images of the sun and moon and stars and 
planets when it was not clear. In summer the gardens were cooled with fresh odorous 
breezes skilfully wafted by fans, and in winter they were heated with concealed fires, so that 
in those gardens it was always spring. There ran little streams over bright pebbles, dividing 
meads of green and gardens of many hues, and spanned by a multitude of bridges. Many 
were the waterfalls in their courses, and many were the lilied lakelets into which they 
expanded. Over the streams and lakelets rode white swans, whilst the music of rare birds 
chimed in with the melody of the waters. In ordered terraces rose the green banks, adorned 
here and there with bowers of vines and sweet blossoms, and seats and benches of marble 
and porphyry. And there were many small shrines and temples where one might rest or pray 
to small gods. 

Each year there was celebrated in Sarnath the feast of the destroying of lb, at which time 
wine, song, dancing, and merriment of every kind abounded. Great honours were then paid to 
the shades of those who had annihilated the odd ancient beings, and the memory of those 
beings and of their elder gods was derided by dancers and lutanists crowned with roses from 
the gardens of Zokkar. And the kings would look out over the lake and curse the bones of the 
dead that lay beneath it. At first the high-priests liked not these festivals, for there had 
descended amongst them queer tales of how the sea-green eikon had vanished, and how 
Taran-lsh had died from fear and left a warning. And they said that from their high tower they 
sometimes saw lights beneath the waters of the lake. But as many years passed without 
calamity even the priests laughed and cursed and joined in the orgies of the feasters. Indeed, 
had they not themselves, in their high tower, often performed the very ancient and secret rite 
in detestation of Bokrug, the water-lizard? And a thousand years of riches and delight passed 
over Sarnath, wonder of the world and pride of all mankind. 

Gorgeous beyond thought was the feast of the thousandth year of the destroying of lb. For a 
decade had it been talked of in the land of Mnar, and as it drew nigh there came to Sarnath 
on horses and camels and elephants men from Thraa, llarnek, and Kadatheron, and all the 
cities of Mnar and the lands beyond. Before the marble walls on the appointed night were 
pitched the pavilions of princes and the tents of travellers, and all the shore resounded with 
the song of happy revellers. Within his banquet-hall reclined Nargis-Hei, the king, drunken 
with ancient wine from the vaults of conquered Pnath, and surrounded by feasting nobles and 
hurrying slaves. There were eaten many strange delicacies at that feast; peacocks from the 
isles of Nariel in the Middle Ocean, young goats from the distant hills of Implan, heels of 
camels from the Bnazic desert, nuts and spices from Cydathrian groves, and pearls from 
wave-washed Mtal dissolved in the vinegar of Thraa. Of sauces there were an untold number, 
prepared by the subtlest cooks in all Mnar, and suited to the palate of every feaster. But most 

prized of all the viands were the great fishes from the lake, each of vast size, and served up 
on golden platters set with rubies and diamonds. 

Whilst the king and his nobles feasted within the palace, and viewed the crowning dish as it 
awaited them on golden platters, others feasted elsewhere. In the tower of the great temple 
the priests held revels, and in pavilions without the walls the princes of neighbouring lands 
made merry. And it was the high-priest Gnai-Kah who first saw the shadows that descended 
from the gibbous moon into the lake, and the damnable green mists that arose from the lake 
to meet the moon and to shroud in a sinister haze the towers and the domes of fated Sarnath. 
Thereafter those in the towers and without the walls beheld strange lights on the water, and 
saw that the grey rock Akurion, which was wont to rear high above it near the shore, was 
almost submerged. And fear grew vaguely yet swiftly, so that the princes of llarnek and of far 
Rokol took down and folded their tents and pavilions and departed for the river Ai, though they 
scarce knew the reason for their departing. 

Then, close to the hour of midnight, all the bronze gates of Sarnath burst open and emptied 
forth a frenzied throng that blackened the plain, so that all the visiting princes and travellers 
fled away in fright. For on the faces of this throng was writ a madness born of horror 
unendurable, and on their tongues were words so terrible that no hearer paused for proof. 
Men whose eyes were wild with fear shrieked aloud of the sight within the king's banquet-hall, 
where through the windows were seen no longer the forms of Nargis-Hei and his nobles and 
slaves, but a horde of indescribable green voiceless things with bulging eyes, pouting, flabby 
lips, and curious ears; things which danced horribly, bearing in their paws golden platters set 
with rubies and diamonds containing uncouth flames. And the princes and travellers, as they 
fled from the doomed city of Sarnath on horses and camels and elephants, looked again upon 
the mist-begetting lake and saw the grey rock Akurion was quite submerged. 

Through all the land of Mnar and the lands adjacent spread the tales of those who had fled 
from Sarnath, and caravans sought that accursed city and its precious metals no more. It was 
long ere any traveller went thither, and even then only the brave and adventurous young men 
of distant Falona dared make the journey; adventurous young men of yellow hair and blue 
eyes, who are no kin to the men of Mnar. These men indeed went to the lake to view Sarnath; 
but though they found the vast still lake itself, and the grey rock Akurion which rears high 
above it near the shore, they beheld not the wonder of the world and pride of all mankind. 
Where once had risen walls of 300 cubits and towers yet higher, now stretched only the 
marshy shore, and where once had dwelt fifty millions of men now crawled only the detestable 
green water-lizard. Not even the mines of precious metal remained, for DOOM had come to 

But half buried in the rushes was spied a curious green idol of stone; an exceedingly ancient 
idol coated with seaweed and chiselled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard. That 
idol, enshrined in the high temple at llarnek, was subsequently worshipped beneath the 
gibbous moon throughout the land of Mnar. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Statement of Randolph Carter 


I repeat to you, gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Detain me here forever if you will; 
confine or execute me if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but I 
can say no more than I have said already. Everything that I can remember, I have told with 
perfect candour. Nothing has been distorted or concealed, and if anything remains vague, it is 
only because of the dark cloud which has come over my mind — that cloud and the nebulous 
nature of the horrors which brought it upon me. 

Again I say, I do not know what has become of Harley Warren; though I think — almost hope — 
that he is in peaceful oblivion, if there be anywhere so blessed a thing. It is true that I have for 
five years been his closest friend, and a partial sharer of his terrible researches into the 
unknown. I will not deny, though my memory is uncertain and indistinct, that this witness of 
yours may have seen us together as he says, on the Gainesville pike, walking toward Big 
Cypress Swamp, at half past eleven on that awful night. That we bore electric lanterns, 
spades, and a curious coil of wire with attached instruments, I will even affirm; for these things 
all played a part in the single hideous scene which remains burned into my shaken 
recollection. But of what followed, and of the reason I was found alone and dazed on the edge 
of the swamp next morning, I must insist that I know nothing save what I have told you over 
and over again. You say to me that there is nothing in the swamp or near it which could form 
the setting of that frightful episode. I reply that I know nothing beyond what I saw. Vision or 
nightmare it may have been — vision or nightmare I fervently hope it was — yet it is all that my 
mind retains of what took place in those shocking hours after we left the sight of men. And 
why Harley Warren did not return, he or his shade — or some nameless thing I cannot 
describe — alone can tell. 

As I have said before, the weird studies of Harley Warren were well known to me, and to 
some extent shared by me. Of his vast collection of strange, rare books on forbidden subjects 
I have read all that are written in the languages of which I am master; but these are few as 
compared with those in languages I cannot understand. Most, I believe, are in Arabic; and the 
fiend-inspired book which brought on the end — the book which he carried in his pocket out of 
the world — was written in characters whose like I never saw elsewhere. Warren would never 
tell me just what was in that book. As to the nature of our studies — must I say again that I no 
longer retain full comprehension? It seems to me rather merciful that I do not, for they were 
terrible studies, which I pursued more through reluctant fascination than through actual 
inclination. Warren always dominated me, and sometimes I feared him. I remember how I 
shuddered at his facial expression on the night before the awful happening, when he talked 
so incessantly of his theory, why certain corpses never decay, but rest firm and fat in their 
tombs for a thousand years. But I do not fear him now, for I suspect that he has known 
horrors beyond my ken. Now I fear for him. 

Once more I say that I have no clear idea of our object on that night. Certainly, it had much to 
do with something in the book which Warren carried with him — that ancient book in 
undecipherable characters which had come to him from India a month before — but I swear I 
do not know what it was that we expected to find. Your witness says he saw us at half past 
eleven on the Gainesville pike, headed for Big Cypress Swamp. This is probably true, but I 
have no distinct memory of it. The picture seared into my soul is of one scene only, and the 

hour must have been long after midnight; for a waning crescent moon was high in the 
vaporous heavens. 

The place was an ancient cemetery; so ancient that I trembled at the manifold signs of 
immemorial years. It was in a deep, damp hollow, overgrown with rank grass, moss, and 
curious creeping weeds, and filled with a vague stench which my idle fancy associated 
absurdly with rotting stone. On every hand were the signs of neglect and decrepitude, and I 
seemed haunted by the notion that Warren and I were the first living creatures to invade a 
lethal silence of centuries. Over the valley's rim a wan, waning crescent moon peered through 
the noisome vapours that seemed to emanate from unheard-of catacombs, and by its feeble, 
wavering beams I could distinguish a repellent array of antique slabs, urns, cenotaphs, and 
mausolean facades; all crumbling, moss-grown, and moisture-stained, and partly concealed 
by the gross luxuriance of the unhealthy vegetation. My first vivid impression of my own 
presence in this terrible necropolis concerns the act of pausing with Warren before a certain 
half-obliterated sepulchre, and of throwing down some burdens which we seemed to have 
been carrying. I now observed that I had with me an electric lantern and two spades, whilst 
my companion was supplied with a similar lantern and a portable telephone outfit. No word 
was uttered, for the spot and the task seemed known to us; and without delay we seized our 
spades and commenced to clear away the grass, weeds, and drifted earth from the flat, 
archaic mortuary. After uncovering the entire surface, which consisted of three immense 
granite slabs, we stepped back some distance to survey the charnel scene; and Warren 
appeared to make some mental calculations. Then he returned to the sepulchre, and using 
his spade as a lever, sought to pry up the slab lying nearest to a stony ruin which may have 
been a monument in its day. He did not succeed, and motioned to me to come to his 
assistance. Finally our combined strength loosened the stone, which we raised and tipped to 
one side. 

The removal of the slab revealed a black aperture, from which rushed an effluence of 
miasmal gases so nauseous that we started back in horror. After an interval, however, we 
approached the pit again, and found the exhalations less unbearable. Our lanterns disclosed 
the top of a flight of stone steps, dripping with some detestable ichor of the inner earth, and 
bordered by moist walls encrusted with nitre. And now for the first time my memory records 
verbal discourse. Warren addressing me at length in his mellow tenor voice; a voice singularly 
unperturbed by our awesome surroundings. 

"I'm sorry to have to ask you to stay on the surface," he said, "but it would be a crime to let 
anyone with your frail nerves go down there. You can't imagine, even from what you have 
read and from what I've told you, the things I shall have to see and do. It's fiendish work, 
Carter, and I doubt if any man without Ironclad sensibilities could ever see it through and 
come up alive and sane. I don't wish to offend you, and heaven knows I'd be glad enough to 
have you with me; but the responsibility is in a certain sense mine, and I couldn't drag a 
bundle of nerves like you down to probable death or madness. I tell you, you can't imagine 
what the thing is really like! But I promise to keep you informed over the telephone of every 
move — you see I've enough wire here to reach to the centre of the earth and back!" 

I can still hear. In memory, those coolly spoken words; and I can still remember my 
remonstrances. I seemed desperately anxious to accompany my friend Into those sepulchral 
depths, yet he proved inflexibly obdurate. At one time he threatened to abandon the 
expedition if I remained insistent; a threat which proved effective, since he alone held the key 
to the thing. All this I can still remember, though I no longer know what manner of thing wie 
sought. After he had secured my reluctant acquiescence in his design. Warren picked up the 

reel of wire and adjusted the instruments. At liis nod I took one of tlie latter and seated myself 
upon an aged, discoloured gravestone close by the newly uncovered aperture. Then he 
shook my hand, shouldered the coil of wire, and disappeared within that indescribable 
ossuary. For a moment I kept sight of the glow of his lantern, and heard the rustle of the wire 
as he laid it down after him; but the glow soon disappeared abruptly, as if a turn in the stone 
staircase had been encountered, and the sound died away almost as quickly. I was alone, yet 
bound to the unknown depths by those magic strands whose insulated surface lay green 
beneath the struggling beams of that waning crescent moon. 

In the lone silence of that hoary and deserted city of the dead, my mind conceived the most 
ghastly phantasies and illusions; and the grotesque shrines and monoliths seemed to assume 
a hideous personality — a half-sentience. Amorphous shadows seemed to lurk in the darker 
recesses of the weed-choked hollow and to flit as in some blasphemous ceremonial 
procession past the portals of the mouldering tombs in the hillside; shadows which could not 
have been cast by that pallid, peering crescent moon. I constantly consulted my watch by the 
light of my electric lantern, and listened with feverish anxiety at the receiver of the telephone; 
but for more than a quarter of an hour heard nothing. Then a faint clicking came from the 
instrument, and I called down to my friend in a tense voice. Apprehensive as I was, I was 
nevertheless unprepared for the words which came up from that uncanny vault in accents 
more alarmed and quivering than any I had heard before from Harley Warren. He who had so 
calmly left me a little while previously, now called from below in a shaky whisper more 
portentous than the loudest shriek: 

"God! If you could see what I am seeing!" 

I could not answer. Speechless, I could only wait. Then came the frenzied tones again: 
"Carter, it's terrible — monstrous — unbelievable!" 

This time my voice did not fail me, and I poured into the transmitter a flood of excited 
questions. Terrified, I continued to repeat, "Warren, what is it? What is it?" 

Once more came the voice of my friend, still hoarse with fear, and now apparently tinged with 

"/ can't tell you, Carter! It's too utterly beyond thought — / dare not tell you — no man could 
know it and live — Great God! I never dreamed of THIS!" Stillness again, save for my now 
incoherent torrent of shuddering inquiry. Then the voice of Warren in a pitch of wilder 

"Carter! for the love of God, put back the slab and get out of this if you can! Quick!— leave 
everything else and make for the outside — it's your only chance! Do as I say, and don't ask 
me to explain!" 

I heard, yet was able only to repeat my frantic questions. Around me were the tombs and the 
darkness and the shadows; below me, some peril beyond the radius of the human 
imagination. But my friend was in greater danger than I, and through my fear I felt a vague 
resentment that he should deem me capable of deserting him under such circumstances. 
More clicking, and after a pause a piteous cry from Warren: 

"Beat it! For God's sake, put back the slab and beat it. Carter!" 

Something in the boyish slang of my evidently stricken companion unleashed my faculties. I 
formed and shouted a resolution, "Warren, brace up! I'm coming down!" But at this offer the 
tone of my auditor changed to a scream of utter despair: 

"Don't! You can't understand! It's too late — and my own fault. Put back the slab and run — 

there's nothing else you or anyone can do now/" The tone changed again, this time acquiring 
a softer quality, as of hopeless resignation. Yet it remained tense through anxiety for me. 

"Quick— before it's too late!" I tried not to heed him; tried to breal< through the paralysis which 
held me, and to fulfil my vow to rush down to his aid. But his next whisper found me still held 
inert in the chains of stark horror. 

"Carter— hurry! It's no use — you must go — better one than two — the slab — "A pause, more 
clicking, then the faint voice of Warren: 

"Nearly over now— don't make it harder— cover up those damned steps and run for your life — 
you're losing time — So long, Carter— won't see you again." Here Warren's whisper swelled 
into a cry; a cry that gradually rose to a shriek fraught with all the horror of the ages — 

"Curse these hellish things— legions— My God! Beat it! Beat it! Beat it!" 

After that was silence. I know not how many interminable aeons I sat stupefied; whispering, 
muttering, calling, screaming into that telephone. Over and over again through those aeons I 
whispered and muttered, called, shouted, and screamed, "Warren! Warren! Answer me — are 
you there?" 

And then there came to me the crowning horror of all — the unbelievable, unthinkable, almost 
unmentionable thing. I have said that aeons seemed to elapse after Warren shrieked forth his 
last despairing warning, and that only my own cries now broke the hideous silence. But after a 
while there was a further clicking in the receiver, and I strained my ears to listen. Again I 
called down, "Warren, are you there?", and in answer heard the thing \Nh\ch has brought this 
cloud over my mind. I do not try, gentlemen, to account for that thing— that voice — nor can I 
venture to describe it in detail, since the first words took away my consciousness and created 
a mental blank which reaches to the time of my awakening in the hospital. Shall I say that the 
voice was deep; hollow; gelatinous; remote; unearthly; inhuman; disembodied? What shall I 
say? It was the end of my experience, and is the end of my story. I heard it, and knew no 
more. Heard it as I sat petrified in that unknown cemetery in the hollow, amidst the crumbling 
stones and the falling tombs, the rank vegetation and the miasma! vapours. Heard it well up 
from the innermost depths of that damnable open sepulchre as I watched amorphous, 
necrophagous shadows dance beneath an accursed waning moon. And this is what it said: 


Return to Table of Contents 

The Terrible Old Man 


It was the design of Angelo Ricci and Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva to call on the Terrible Old 
Man. This old man dwells all alone in a very ancient house on Water Street near the sea, and 
is reputed to be both exceedingly rich and exceedingly feeble; which forms a situation very 
attractive to men of the profession of Messrs. Ricci, Czanek, and Silva, for that profession 
was nothing less dignified than robbery. 

The inhabitants of Kingsport say and think many things about the Terrible Old Man which 
generally keep him safe from the attention of gentlemen like Mr. Ricci and his colleagues, 
despite the almost certain fact that he hides a fortune of indefinite magnitude somewhere 
about his musty and venerable abode. He is, in truth, a very strange person, believed to have 
been a captain of East India clipper ships in his day; so old that no one can remember when 
he was young, and so taciturn that few know his real name. Among the gnarled trees in the 
front yard of his aged and neglected place he maintains a strange collection of large stones, 
oddly grouped and painted so that they resemble the idols in some obscure Eastern temple. 
This collection frightens away most of the small boys who love to taunt the Terrible Old Man 
about his long white hair and beard, or to break the small-paned windows of his dwelling with 
wicked missiles; but there are other things which frighten the older and more curious folk who 
sometimes steal up to the house to peer in through the dusty panes. These folk say that on a 
table in a bare room on the ground floor are many peculiar bottles, in each a small piece of 
lead suspended pendulum-wise from a string. And they say that the Terrible Old Man talks to 
these bottles, addressing them by such names as Jack, Scar-Face, Long Tom, Spanish Joe, 
Peters, and Mate Ellis, and that whenever he speaks to a bottle the little lead pendulum within 
makes certain definite vibrations as if in answer. Those who have watched the tall, lean. 
Terrible Old Man in these peculiar conversations, do not watch him again. But Angelo Ricci 
and Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva were not of Kingsport blood; they were of that new and 
heterogeneous alien stock which lies outside the charmed circle of New England life and 
traditions, and they saw in the Terrible Old Man merely a tottering, almost helpless greybeard, 
who could not walk without the aid of his knotted cane, and whose thin, weak hands shook 
pitifully. They were really quite sorry in their way for the lonely, unpopular old fellow, whom 
everybody shunned, and at whom all the dogs barked singularly. But business is business, 
and to a robber whose soul is in his profession, there is a lure and a challenge about a very 
old and very feeble man who has no account at the bank, and who pays for his few 
necessities at the village store with Spanish gold and silver minted two centuries ago. 

Messrs. Ricci, Czanek, and Silva selected the night of April 11th for their call. Mr. Ricci and 
Mr. Silva were to interview the poor old gentleman, whilst Mr. Czanek waited for them and 
their presumable metallic burden with a covered motor-car in Ship Street, by the gate in the 
tall rear wall of their host's grounds. Desire to avoid needless explanations in case of 
unexpected police intrusions prompted these plans for a quiet and unostentatious departure. 

As prearranged, the three adventurers started out separately in order to prevent any evil- 
minded suspicions afterward. Messrs. Ricci and Silva met in Water Street by the old man's 
front gate, and although they did not like the way the moon shone down upon the painted 
stones through the budding branches of the gnarled trees, they had more important things to 
think about than mere idle superstition. They feared it might be unpleasant work making the 
Terrible Old Man loquacious concerning his hoarded gold and silver, for aged sea-captains 

are notably stubborn and perverse. Still, he was very old and very feeble, and there were two 
visitors. Messrs. Ricci and Silva were experienced in the art of making unwilling persons 
voluble, and the screams of a weak and exceptionally venerable man can be easily muffled. 
So they moved up to the one lighted window and heard the Terrible Old IVIan talking childishly 
to his bottles with pendulums. Then they donned masks and knocked politely at the weather- 
stained oaken door. 

Waiting seemed very long to IVIr. Czanek as he fidgeted restlessly in the covered motor-car by 
the Terrible Old IVIan's back gate in Ship Street. He was more than ordinarily tender-hearted, 
and he did not like the hideous screams he had heard in the ancient house just after the hour 
appointed for the deed. Had he not told his colleagues to be as gentle as possible with the 
pathetic old sea-captain? Very nervously he watched that narrow oaken gate in the high and 
ivy-clad stone wall. Frequently he consulted his watch, and wondered at the delay. Had the 
old man died before revealing where his treasure was hidden, and had a thorough search 
become necessary? IVIr. Czanek did not like to wait so long in the dark in such a place. Then 
he sensed a soft tread or tapping on the walk inside the gate, heard a gentle fumbling at the 
rusty latch, and saw the narrow, heavy door swing inward. And in the pallid glow of the single 
dim street-lamp he strained his eyes to see what his colleagues had brought out of that 
sinister house which loomed so close behind. But when he looked, he did not see what he 
had expected; for his colleagues were not there at all, but only the Terrible Old Man leaning 
quietly on his knotted cane and smiling hideously. Mr. Czanek had never before noticed the 
colour of that man's eyes; now he saw that they were yellow. 

Little things make considerable excitement in little towns, which is the reason that Kingsport 
people talked all that spring and summer about the three unidentifiable bodies, horribly 
slashed as with many cutlasses, and horribly mangled as by the tread of many cruel boot- 
heels, which the tide washed in. And some people even spoke of things as trivial as the 
deserted motor-car found in Ship Street, or certain especially inhuman cries, probably of a 
stray animal or migratory bird, heard in the night by wakeful citizens. But in this idle village 
gossip the Terrible Old Man took no interest at all. He was by nature reserved, and when one 
is aged and feeble one's reserve is doubly strong. Besides, so ancient a sea-captain must 
have witnessed scores of things much more stirring in the far-off days of his unremembered 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Tree 


"Fata viam invenient." 

On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the 
ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen 
into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the 
time-stained blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent 
shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk 
fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount 
Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple 
swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an 
old bee-keeper who lives in the neighbouring cottage told me a different story. 

Many years ago, when the hillside villa was new and resplendent, there dwelt within it the two 
sculptors Kalos and Musides. From Lydia to Neapolis the beauty of their work was praised, 
and none dared say that the one excelled the other in skill. The Hermes of Kalos stood in a 
marble shrine in Corinth, and the Pallas of Musides surmounted a pillar In Athens, near the 
Parthenon. All men paid homage to Kalos and Musides, and marvelled that no shadow of 
artistic jealousy cooled the warmth of their brotherly friendship. 

But though Kalos and Musides dwelt In unbroken harmony, their natures were not alike. 
Whilst Musides revelled by night amidst the urban gaieties of Tegea, Kalos would remain at 
home; stealing away from the sight of his slaves into the cool recesses of the olive grove. 
There he would meditate upon the visions that filled his mind, and there devise the forms of 
beauty which later became immortal in breathing marble. Idle folk, indeed, said that Kalos 
conversed with the spirits of the grove, and that his statues were but images of the fauns and 
dryads he met there — ^for he patterned his work after no living model. 

So famous were Kalos and Musides, that none wondered when the Tyrant of Syracuse sent 
to them deputies to speak of the costly statue of Tyche which he had planned for his city. Of 
great size and cunning workmanship must the statue be, for it was to form a wonder of 
nations and a goal of travellers. Exalted beyond thought would be he whose work should gain 
acceptance, and for this honour Kalos and Musides were invited to compete. Their brotherly 
love was well known, and the crafty Tyrant surmised that each, instead of concealing his work 
from the other, would offer aid and advice; this charity producing two images of unheard-of 
beauty, the lovelier of which would eclipse even the dreams of poets. 

With joy the sculptors hailed the Tyrant's offer, so that in the days that followed their slaves 
heard the ceaseless blows of chisels. Not from each other did Kalos and Musides conceal 
their work, but the sight was for them alone. Saving theirs, no eyes beheld the two divine 
figures released by skilful blows from the rough blocks that had imprisoned them since the 
world began. 

At night, as of yore, Musides sought the banquet halls of Tegea whilst Kalos wandered alone 
in the olive grove. But as time passed, men observed a want of gaiety in the once sparkling 
Musides. It was strange, they said amongst themselves, that depression should thus seize 
one with so great a chance to win art's loftiest reward. Many months passed, yet in the sour 
face of Musides came nothing of the sharp expectancy which the situation should arouse. 

Then one day Musides spoke of the illness of Kalos, after which none marvelled again at his 
sadness, since the sculptors' attachment was known to be deep and sacred. Subsequently 
many went to visit Kalos, and indeed noticed the pallor of his face; but there was about him a 
happy serenity which made his glance more magical than the glance of IVIusides — who was 
clearly distracted with anxiety, and who pushed aside all the slaves in his eagerness to feed 
and wait upon his friend with his own hands. Hidden behind heavy curtains stood the two 
unfinished figures of Tyche, little touched of late by the sick man and his faithful attendant. 

As Kalos grew inexplicably weaker and weaker despite the ministrations of puzzled 
physicians and of his assiduous friend, he desired to be carried often to the grove which he so 
loved. There he would ask to be left alone, as if wishing to speak with unseen things. IVIusides 
ever granted his requests, though his eyes filled with visible tears at the thought that Kalos 
should care more for the fauns and the dryads than for him. At last the end drew near, and 
Kalos discoursed of things beyond this life. IVIusides, weeping, promised him a sepulchre 
more lovely than the tomb of Mausolus; but Kalos bade him speak no more of marble glories. 
Only one wish now haunted the mind of the dying man; that twigs from certain olive trees in 
the grove be buried by his resting-place — close to his head. And one night, sitting alone in the 
darkness of the olive grove, Kalos died. 

Beautiful beyond words was the marble sepulchre which stricken Musides carved for his 
beloved friend. None but Kalos himself could have fashioned such bas-reliefs, wherein were 
displayed all the splendours of Elysium. Nor did Musides fail to bury close to Kalos' head the 
olive twigs from the grove. 

As the first violence of Musides' grief gave place to resignation, he laboured with diligence 
upon his figure of Tyche. All honour was now his, since the Tyrant of Syracuse would have the 
work of none save him or Kalos. His task proved a vent for his emotion, and he toiled more 
steadily each day, shunning the gaieties he once had relished. Meanwhile his evenings were 
spent beside the tomb of his friend, where a young olive tree had sprung up near the 
sleeper's head. So swift was the growth of this tree, and so strange was its form, that all who 
beheld it exclaimed in surprise; and Musides seemed at once fascinated and repelled. 

Three years after the death of Kalos, Musides despatched a messenger to the Tyrant, and it 
was whispered in the agora at Tegea that the mighty statue was finished. By this time the tree 
by the tomb had attained amazing proportions, exceeding all other trees of its kind, and 
sending out a singularly heavy branch above the apartment in which Musides laboured. As 
many visitors came to view the prodigious tree, as to admire the art of the sculptor, so that 
Musides was seldom alone. But he did not mind his multitude of guests; indeed, he seemed 
to dread being alone now that his absorbing work was done. The bleak mountain wind, 
sighing through the olive grove and the tomb-tree, had an uncanny way of forming vaguely 
articulate sounds. 

The sky was dark on the evening that the Tyrant's emissaries came to Tegea. It was definitely 
known that they had come to bear away the great image of Tyche and bring eternal honour to 
Musides, so their reception by the proxenoi was of great warmth. As the night wore on, a 
violent storm of wind broke over the crest of Maenalus, and the men from far Syracuse were 
glad that they rested snugly in the town. They talked of their illustrious Tyrant, and of the 
splendour of his capital; and exulted in the glory of the statue which Musides had wrought for 
him. And then the men of Tegea spoke of the goodness of Musides, and of his heavy grief for 
his friend; and how not even the coming laurels of art could console him in the absence of 
Kalos, who might have worn those laurels instead. Of the tree which grew by the tomb, near 

the head of Kalos, they also spoke. The wind shrieked more horribly, and both the 
Syracusans and the Arcadians prayed to Aiolos. 

In the sunshine of the morning the proxenoi led the Tyrant's messengers up the slope to the 
abode of the sculptor, but the night-wind had done strange things. Slaves' cries ascended 
from a scene of desolation, and no more amidst the olive grove rose the gleaming colonnades 
of that vast hall wherein Musides had dreamed and toiled. Lone and shaken mourned the 
humble courts and the lower walls, for upon the sumptuous greater peristyle had fallen 
squarely the heavy overhanging bough of the strange new tree, reducing the stately poem in 
marble with odd completeness to a mound of unsightly ruins. Strangers and Tegeans stood 
aghast, looking from the wreckage to the great, sinister tree whose aspect was so weirdly 
human and whose roots reached so queerly into the sculptured sepulchre of Kalos. And their 
fear and dismay increased when they searched the fallen apartment; for of the gentle 
Musides, and of the marvellously fashioned image of Tyche, no trace could be discovered. 
Amidst such stupendous ruin only chaos dwelt, and the representatives of two cities left 
disappointed; Syracusans that they had no statue to bear home, Tegeans that they had no 
artist to crown. However, the Syracusans obtained after a while a very splendid statue in 
Athens, and the Tegeans consoled themselves by erecting in the agora a marble temple 
commemorating the gifts, virtues, and brotherly piety of Musides. 

But the olive grove still stands, as does the tree growing out of the tomb of Kalos, and the old 
bee-keeper told me that sometimes the boughs whisper to one another in the night-wind, 
saying over and over again, "Oida! Oidal—I know! I know!" 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Cats of Ulthar 


It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can 
verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and 
close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer 
of tales from forgotten cities in Meroe and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle's lords, and heir to 
the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her 
language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath 

In Ulthar, before ever the burgesses forbade the killing of cats, there dwelt an old cotter and 
his wife who delighted to trap and slay the cats of their neighbours. Why they did this I know 
not; save that many hate the voice of the cat in the night, and take it ill that cats should run 
stealthily about yards and gardens at twilight. But whatever the reason, this old man and 
woman took pleasure in trapping and slaying every cat which came near to their hovel; and 
from some of the sounds heard after dark, many villagers fancied that the manner of slaying 
was exceedingly peculiar. But the villagers did not discuss such things with the old man and 
his wife; because of the habitual expression on the withered faces of the two, and because 
their cottage was so small and so darkly hidden under spreading oaks at the back of a 
neglected yard. In truth, much as the owners of cats hated these odd folk, they feared them 
more; and instead of berating them as brutal assassins, merely took care that no cherished 
pet or mouser should stray toward the remote hovel under the dark trees. When through 
some unavoidable oversight a cat was missed, and sounds heard after dark, the loser would 
lament impotently; or console himself by thanking Fate that it was not one of his children who 
had thus vanished. For the people of Ulthar were simple, and knew not whence it is all cats 
first came. 

One day a caravan of strange wanderers from the South entered the narrow cobbled streets 
of Ulthar. Dark wanderers they were, and unlike the other roving folk who passed through the 
village twice every year. In the market-place they told fortunes for silver, and bought gay 
beads from the merchants. What was the land of these wanderers none could tell; but it was 
seen that they were given to strange prayers, and that they had painted on the sides of their 
wagons strange figures with human bodies and the heads of cats, hawks, rams, and lions. 
And the leader of the caravan wore a head-dress with two horns and a curious disc betwixt 
the horns. 

There was in this singular caravan a little boy with no father or mother, but only a tiny black 
kitten to cherish. The plague had not been kind to him, yet had left him this small furry thing to 
mitigate his sorrow; and when one is very young, one can find great relief in the lively antics 
of a black kitten. So the boy whom the dark people called Menes smiled more often than he 
wept as he sate playing with his graceful kitten on the steps of an oddly painted wagon. 

On the third morning of the wanderers' stay in Ulthar, Menes could not find his kitten; and as 
he sobbed aloud in the market-place certain villagers told him of the old man and his wife, 
and of sounds heard in the night. And when he heard these things his sobbing gave place to 
meditation, and finally to prayer. He stretched out his arms toward the sun and prayed in a 
tongue no villager could understand; though indeed the villagers did not try very hard to 
understand, since their attention was mostly taken up by the sky and the odd shapes the 
clouds were assuming. It was very peculiar, but as the little boy uttered his petition there 

seemed to form overhead the shadowy, nebulous figures of exotic things; of hybrid creatures 
crowned with horn-flanked discs. Nature is full of such illusions to impress the imaginative. 

That night the wanderers left Ulthar, and were never seen again. And the householders were 
troubled when they noticed that In all the village there was not a cat to be found. From each 
hearth the familiar cat had vanished; cats large and small, black, grey, striped, yellow, and 
white. Old Kranon, the burgomaster, swore that the dark folk had taken the cats away in 
revenge for the killing of Menes' kitten; and cursed the caravan and the little boy. But Nith, the 
lean notary, declared that the old cotter and his wife were more likely persons to suspect; for 
their hatred of cats was notorious and increasingly bold. Still, no one durst complain to the 
sinister couple; even when little Atal, the innkeeper's son, vowed that he had at twilight seen 
all the cats of Ulthar in that accursed yard under the trees, pacing very slowly and solemnly in 
a circle around the cottage, two abreast, as if in performance of some unheard-of rite of 
beasts. The villagers did not know how much to believe from so small a boy; and though they 
feared that the evil pair had charmed the cats to their death, they preferred not to chide the 
old cotter till they met him outside his dark and repellent yard. 

So Ulthar went to sleep in vain anger; and when the people awaked at dawn — behold! every 
cat was back at his accustomed hearth! Large and small, black, grey, striped, yellow, and 
white, none was missing. Very sleek and fat did the cats appear, and sonorous with purring 
content. The citizens talked with one another of the affair, and marvelled not a little. Old 
Kranon again insisted that it was the dark folk who had taken them, since cats did not return 
alive from the cottage of the ancient man and his wife. But all agreed on one thing: that the 
refusal of all the cats to eat their portions of meat or drink their saucers of milk was 
exceedingly curious. And for two whole days the sleek, lazy cats of Ulthar would touch no 
food, but only doze by the fire or in the sun. 

It was fully a week before the villagers noticed that no lights were appearing at dusk in the 
windows of the cottage under the trees. Then the lean Nith remarked that no one had seen 
the old man or his wife since the night the cats were away. In another week the burgomaster 
decided to overcome his fears and call at the strangely silent dwelling as a matter of duty, 
though in so doing he was careful to take with him Shang the blacksmith and Thul the cutter 
of stone as witnesses. And when they had broken down the frail door they found only this: two 
cleanly picked human skeletons on the earthen floor, and a number of singular beetles 
crawling in the shadowy corners. 

There was subsequently much talk among the burgesses of Ulthar. Zath, the coroner, 
disputed at length with Nith, the lean notary; and Kranon and Shang and Thul were 
overwhelmed with questions. Even little Atal, the innkeeper's son, was closely questioned and 
given a sweetmeat as reward. They talked of the old cotter and his wife, of the caravan of 
dark wanderers, of small Menes and his black kitten, of the prayer of IVIenes and of the sky 
during that prayer, of the doings of the cats on the night the caravan left, and of what was 
later found in the cottage under the dark trees in the repellent yard. 

And in the end the burgesses passed that remarkable law which is told of by traders in 
Hatheg and discussed by travellers in Nir; namely, that in Ulthar no man may kill a cat. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Temple 


(Manuscript found on the coast of Yucatan.) 

On August 20, 1917, I, Karl Heinrich, Graf von Altberg-Ehrenstein, Lieutenant-Commander in 
the Imperial German Navy and in charge of the submarine U-29, deposit this bottle and 
record in the Atlantic Ocean at a point to me unknown but probably about N. Latitude 20°, W. 
Longitude 35°, where my ship lies disabled on the ocean floor. I do so because of my desire 
to set certain unusual facts before the public; a thing I shall not in all probability survive to 
accomplish in person, since the circumstances surrounding me are as menacing as they are 
extraordinary, and involve not only the hopeless crippling of the U-29, but the impairment of 
my iron German will in a manner most disastrous. 

On the afternoon of June 18, as reported by wireless to the U-61 , bound for Kiel, we 
torpedoed the British freighter Victory, New York to Liverpool, in N. Latitude 45° 16', W. 
Longitude 28° 34'; permitting the crew to leave in boats in order to obtain a good cinema view 
for the admiralty records. The ship sank quite picturesquely, bow first, the stern rising high out 
of the water whilst the hull shot down perpendicularly to the bottom of the sea. Our camera 
missed nothing, and I regret that so fine a reel of film should never reach Berlin. After that we 
sank the lifeboats with our guns and submerged. 

When we rose to the surface about sunset a seaman's body was found on the deck, hands 
gripping the railing in curious fashion. The poor fellow was young, rather dark, and very 
handsome; probably an Italian or Greek, and undoubtedly of the Victory's crew. He had 
evidently sought refuge on the very ship which had been forced to destroy his own — one 
more victim of the unjust war of aggression which the English pig-dogs are waging upon the 
Fatherland. Our men searched him for souvenirs, and found in his coat pocket a very odd bit 
of ivory carved to represent a youth's head crowned with laurel. My fellow-officer, Lieut. 
Klenze, believed that the thing was of great age and artistic value, so took it from the men for 
himself. How it had ever come into the possession of a common sailor, neither he nor I could 

As the dead man was thrown overboard there occurred two incidents which created much 
disturbance amongst the crew. The fellow's eyes had been closed; but in the dragging of his 
body to the rail they were jarred open, and many seemed to entertain a queer delusion that 
they gazed steadily and mockingly at Schmidt and Zimmer, who were bent over the corpse. 
The Boatswain Muller, an elderly man who would have known better had he not been a 
superstitious Alsatian swine, became so excited by this impression that he watched the body 
in the water; and swore that after it sank a little it drew its limbs into a swimming position and 
sped away to the south under the waves. Klenze and I did not like these displays of peasant 
ignorance, and severely reprimanded the men, particularly Muller. 

The next day a very troublesome situation was created by the indisposition of some of the 
crew. They were evidently suffering from the nervous strain of our long voyage, and had had 
bad dreams. Several seemed quite dazed and stupid; and after satisfying myself that they 
were not feigning their weakness, I excused them from their duties. The sea was rather 
rough, so we descended to a depth where the waves were less troublesome. Here we were 
comparatively calm, despite a somewhat puzzling southward current which we could not 
identify from our oceanographic charts. The moans of the sick men were decidedly annoying; 

but since they did not appear to demoralise tine rest of tine crew, we did not resort to extreme 
measures. It was our plan to remain where we were and intercept the liner Dacia, mentioned 
in information from agents in New York. 

In the early evening we rose to the surface, and found the sea less heavy. The smoke of a 
battleship was on the northern horizon, but our distance and ability to submerge made us 
safe. What worried us more was the talk of Boatswain Muller, which grew wilder as night 
came on. He was in a detestably childish state, and babbled of some illusion of dead bodies 
drifting past the undersea portholes; bodies which looked at him intensely, and which he 
recognised in spite of bloating as having seen dying during some of our victorious German 
exploits. And he said that the young man we had found and tossed overboard was their 
leader. This was very gruesome and abnormal, so we confined Muller in irons and had him 
soundly whipped. The men were not pleased at his punishment, but discipline was necessary. 
We also denied the request of a delegation headed by Seaman Zimmer, that the curious 
carved ivory head be cast into the sea. 

On June 20, Seamen Bohm and Schmidt, who had been ill the day before, became violently 
insane. I regretted that no physician was included in our complement of officers, since 
German lives are precious; but the constant ravings of the two concerning a terrible curse 
were most subversive of discipline, so drastic steps were taken. The crew accepted the event 
in a sullen fashion, but it seemed to quiet Muller; who thereafter gave us no trouble. In the 
evening we released him, and he went about his duties silently. 

In the week that followed we were all very nervous, watching for the Dacia. The tension was 
aggravated by the disappearance of Muller and Zimmer, who undoubtedly committed suicide 
as a result of the fears which had seemed to harass them, though they were not observed in 
the act of jumping overboard. I was rather glad to be rid of Muller, for even his silence had 
unfavourably affected the crew. Everyone seemed inclined to be silent now, as though holding 
a secret fear. Many were ill, but none made a disturbance. Lieut. Klenze chafed under the 
strain, and was annoyed by the merest trifles — such as the school of dolphins which gathered 
about the U-29 in increasing numbers, and the growing intensity of that southward current 
which was not on our chart. 

It at length became apparent that we had missed the Dacia altogether. Such failures are not 
uncommon, and we were more pleased than disappointed; since our return to Wilhelmshaven 
was now in order. At noon June 28 we turned northeastward, and despite some rather 
comical entanglements with the unusual masses of dolphins were soon under way. 

The explosion in the engine room at 2 P.M. was wholly a surprise. No defect in the machinery 
or carelessness in the men had been noticed, yet without warning the ship was racked from 
end to end with a colossal shock. Lieut. Klenze hurried to the engine room, finding the fuel- 
tank and most of the mechanism shattered, and Engineers Raabe and Schneider instantly 
killed. Our situation had suddenly become grave indeed; for though the chemical air 
regenerators were intact, and though we could use the devices for raising and submerging 
the ship and opening the hatches as long as compressed air and storage batteries might hold 
out, we were powerless to propel or guide the submarine. To seek rescue in the lifeboats 
would be to deliver ourselves into the hands of enemies unreasonably embittered against our 
great German nation, and our wireless had failed ever since the V/cto/y affair to put us in 
touch with a fellow U-boat of the Imperial Navy. 

From the hour of the accident till July 2 we drifted constantly to the south, almost without 
plans and encountering no vessel. Dolphins still encircled the U-29, a somewhat remarkable 

circumstance considering tine distance we liad covered. On tlie morning of July 2 we siglited 
a warship flying American colours, and the men became very restless In their desire to 
surrender. Finally Lieut. Klenze had to shoot a seaman named Traube, who urged this un- 
German act with especial violence. This quieted the crew for the time, and we submerged 

The next afternoon a dense flock of sea-birds appeared from the south, and the ocean began 
to heave ominously. Closing our hatches, we awaited developments until we realised that we 
must either submerge or be swamped In the mounting waves. Our air pressure and electricity 
were diminishing, and we wished to avoid all unnecessary use of our slender mechanical 
resources; but in this case there was no choice. We did not descend far, and when after 
several hours the sea was calmer, we decided to return to the surface. Here, however, a new 
trouble developed; for the ship failed to respond to our direction in spite of all that the 
mechanics could do. As the men grew more frightened at this undersea Imprisonment, some 
of them began to mutter again about Lieut. Klenze's ivory image, but the sight of an automatic 
pistol calmed them. We kept the poor devils as busy as we could, tinkering at the machinery 
even when we knew it was useless. 

Klenze and I usually slept at different times; and it was during my sleep, about 5 A.M., July 4, 
that the general mutiny broke loose. The six remaining pigs of seamen, suspecting that we 
were lost, had suddenly burst into a mad fury at our refusal to surrender to the Yankee 
battleship two days before; and were in a delirium of cursing and destruction. They roared like 
the animals they were, and broke instruments and furniture indiscriminately; screaming about 
such nonsense as the curse of the Ivory image and the dark dead youth who looked at them 
and swam away. Lieut. Klenze seemed paralysed and inefficient, as one might expect of a 
soft, womanish Rhinelander. I shot all six men, for it was necessary, and made sure that none 
remained alive. 

We expelled the bodies through the double hatches and were alone in the U-29. Klenze 
seemed very nervous, and drank heavily. It was decided that we remain alive as long as 
possible, using the large stock of provisions and chemical supply of oxygen, none of which 
had suffered from the crazy antics of those swine-hound seamen. Our compasses, depth 
gauges, and other delicate instruments were ruined; so that henceforth our only reckoning 
would be guesswork, based on our watches, the calendar, and our apparent drift as judged by 
any objects we might spy through the portholes or from the conning tower. Fortunately we had 
storage batteries still capable of long use, both for Interior lighting and for the searchlight. We 
often cast a beam around the ship, but saw only dolphins, swimming parallel to our own 
drifting course. I was scientifically interested in those dolphins; for though the ordinary 
Delphinus delphis is a cetacean mammal, unable to subsist without air, I watched one of the 
swimmers closely for two hours, and did not see him alter his submerged condition. 

With the passage of time Klenze and I decided that we were still drifting south, meanwhile 
sinking deeper and deeper. We noted the marine fauna and flora, and read much on the 
subject in the books I had carried with me for spare moments. I could not help observing, 
however, the inferior scientific knowledge of my companion. His mind was not Prussian, but 
given to imaginings and speculations which have no value. The fact of our coming death 
affected him curiously, and he would frequently pray In remorse over the men, women, and 
children we had sent to the bottom; forgetting that all things are noble which serve the 
German state. After a time he became noticeably unbalanced, gazing for hours at his ivory 
image and weaving fanciful stories of the lost and forgotten things under the sea. Sometimes, 
as a psychological experiment, I would lead him on in these wanderings, and listen to his 

endless poetical quotations and tales of sunken ships. I was very sorry for him, for I dislike to 
see a German suffer; but he was not a good man to die with. For myself I was proud, knowing 
how the Fatherland would revere my memory and how my sons would be taught to be men 
like me. 

On August 9, we espied the ocean floor, and sent a powerful beam from the searchlight over 
it. It was a vast undulating plain, mostly covered with seaweed, and strown with the shells of 
small molluscs. Here and there were slimy objects of puzzling contour, draped with weeds 
and encrusted with barnacles, which Klenze declared must be ancient ships lying in their 
graves. He was puzzled by one thing, a peak of solid matter, protruding above the ocean bed 
nearly four feet at its apex; about two feet thick, with flat sides and smooth upper surfaces 
which met at a very obtuse angle. I called the peak a bit of outcropping rock, but Klenze 
thought he saw carvings on it. After a while he began to shudder, and turned away from the 
scene as If frightened; yet could give no explanation save that he was overcome with the 
vastness, darkness, remoteness, antiquity, and mystery of the oceanic abysses. His mind was 
tired, but I am always a German, and was quick to notice two things; that the U-29 was 
standing the deep-sea pressure splendidly, and that the peculiar dolphins were still about us, 
even at a depth where the existence of high organisms is considered impossible by most 
naturalists. That I had previously overestimated our depth, I was sure; but none the less we 
must still be deep enough to make these phenomena remarkable. Our southward speed, as 
gauged by the ocean floor, was about as I had estimated from the organisms passed at 
higher levels. 

It was at 3:1 5 P.M., August 1 2, that poor Klenze went wholly mad. He had been in the conning 
tower using the searchlight when I saw him bound Into the library compartment where I sat 
reading, and his face at once betrayed him. I will repeat here what he said, underlining the 
words he emphasised: "He is calling! He is calling! I hear him! We must go!" As he spoke he 
took his ivory image from the table, pocketed It, and seized my arm In an effort to drag me up 
the companionway to the deck. In a moment I understood that he meant to open the hatch 
and plunge with me into the water outside, a vagary of suicidal and homicidal mania for which 
I was scarcely prepared. As I hung back and attempted to soothe him he grew more violent, 
saying: "Come now — do not wait until later; it is better to repent and be forgiven than to defy 
and be condemned." Then I tried the opposite of the soothing plan, and told him he was 
mad — pitifully demented. But he was unmoved, and cried: "If I am mad, it is mercy! May the 
gods pity the man who in his callousness can remain sane to the hideous end! Come and be 
mad whilst he still calls with mercy!" 

This outburst seemed to relieve a pressure in his brain; for as he finished he grew much 
milder, asking me to let him depart alone If I would not accompany him. My course at once 
became clear. He was a German, but only a Rhinelander and a commoner; and he was now a 
potentially dangerous madman. By complying with his suicidal request I could immediately 
ifree myself from one who was no longer a companion but a menace. I asked him to give me 
the Ivory Image before he went, but this request brought from him such uncanny laughter that 
I did not repeat it. Then I asked him If he wished to leave any keepsake or lock of hair for his 
family in Germany in case I should be rescued, but again he gave me that strange laugh. So 
as he climbed the ladder I went to the levers, and allowing proper time-intervals operated the 
machinery which sent him to his death. After I saw that he was no longer in the boat I threw 
the searchlight around the water in an effort to obtain a last glimpse of him; since I wished to 
ascertain whether the water-pressure would flatten him as It theoretically should, or whether 
the body would be unaffected, like those extraordinary dolphins. I did not, however, succeed 

in finding my late companion, for tine dolpliins were massed tliickly and obscuringly about tine 
conning tower. 

Tliat evening I regretted tliat I liad not tal<en tine ivory image surreptitiously from poor Klenze's 
pocket as he left, for the memory of it fascinated me. I could not forget the youthful, beautiful 
head with its leafy crown, though I am not by nature an artist. I was also sorry that I had no 
one with whom to converse. Klenze, though not my mental equal, was much better than no 
one. I did not sleep well that night, and wondered exactly when the end would come. Surely, I 
had little enough chance of rescue. 

The next day I ascended to the conning tower and commenced the customary searchlight 
explorations. Northward the view was much the same as it had been all the four days since 
we had sighted the bottom, but I perceived that the drifting of the U-29 was less rapid. As I 
swung the beam around to the south, I noticed that the ocean floor ahead fell away in a 
marked declivity, and bore curiously regular blocks of stone in certain places, disposed as if in 
accordance with definite patterns. The boat did not at once descend to match the greater 
ocean depth, so I was soon forced to adjust the searchlight to cast a sharply downward beam. 
Owing to the abruptness of the change a wire was disconnected, which necessitated a delay 
of many minutes for repairs; but at length the light streamed on again, flooding the marine 
valley below me. 

I am not given to emotion of any kind, but my amazement was very great when I saw what lay 
revealed in that electrical glow. And yet as one reared in the best Kulturoi Prussia I should 
not have been amazed, for geology and tradition alike tell us of great transpositions in 
oceanic and continental areas. What I saw was an extended and elaborate array of ruined 
edifices; all of magnificent though unclassified architecture, and in various stages of 
preservation. Most appeared to be of marble, gleaming whitely in the rays of the searchlight, 
and the general plan was of a large city at the bottom of a narrow valley, with numerous 
isolated temples and villas on the steep slopes above. Roofs were fallen and columns were 
broken, but there still remained an air of immemorially ancient splendour which nothing could 

Confronted at last with the Atlantis I had formerly deemed largely a myth, I was the most 
eager of explorers. At the bottom of that valley a river once had flowed; for as I examined the 
scene more closely I beheld the remains of stone and marble bridges and sea-walls, and 
terraces and embankments once verdant and beautiful. In my enthusiasm I became nearly as 
idiotic and sentimental as poor Klenze, and was very tardy in noticing that the southward 
current had ceased at last, allowing the U-29 to settle slowly down upon the sunken city as an 
aeroplane settles upon a town of the upper earth. I was slow, too, in realising that the school 
of unusual dolphins had vanished. 

In about two hours the boat rested in a paved plaza close to the rocky wall of the valley. On 
one side I could view the entire city as it sloped from the plaza down to the old river-bank; on 
the other side, in startling proximity, I was confronted by the richly ornate and perfectly 
preserved facade of a great building, evidently a temple, hollowed from the solid rock. Of the 
original workmanship of this titanic thing I can only make conjectures. The facade, of 
immense magnitude, apparently covers a continuous hollow recess; for its windows are many 
and widely distributed. In the centre yawns a great open door, reached by an impressive flight 
of steps, and surrounded by exquisite carvings like the figures of Bacchanals in relief. 
Foremost of all are the great columns and frieze, both decorated with sculptures of 
inexpressible beauty; obviously portraying idealised pastoral scenes and processions of 
priests and priestesses bearing strange ceremonial devices in adoration of a radiant god. The 

art is of the most phenomenal perfection, largely Hellenic in idea, yet strangely individual. It 
Imparts an Impression of terrible antiquity, as though it were the remotest rather than the 
immediate ancestor of Greek art. Nor can I doubt that every detail of this massive product 
was fashioned from the virgin hillside rock of our planet. It is palpably a part of the valley wall, 
though how the vast interior was ever excavated I cannot imagine. Perhaps a cavern or series 
of caverns furnished the nucleus. Neither age nor submersion has corroded the pristine 
grandeur of this awful fane — for fane indeed it must be — and today after thousands of years it 
rests untarnished and Inviolate in the endless night and silence of an ocean chasm. 

I cannot reckon the number of hours I spent in gazing at the sunken city with its buildings, 
arches, statues, and bridges, and the colossal temple with its beauty and mystery. Though I 
knew that death was near, my curiosity was consuming; and I threw the searchlight's beam 
about in eager quest. The shaft of light permitted me to learn many details, but refused to 
shew anything within the gaping door of the rock-hewn temple; and after a time I turned off 
the current, conscious of the need of conserving power. The rays were now perceptibly 
dimmer than they had been during the weeks of drifting. And as if sharpened by the coming 
deprivation of light, my desire to explore the watery secrets grew. I, a German, should be the 
first to tread those aeon -forgotten ways! 

I produced and examined a deep-sea diving suit of joined metal, and experimented with the 
portable light and air regenerator. Though I should have trouble in managing the double 
hatches alone, I believed I could overcome all obstacles with my scientific skill and actually 
walk about the dead city in person. 

On August 1 6 I effected an exit from the U-29, and laboriously made my way through the 
ruined and mud-choked streets to the ancient river. I found no skeletons or other human 
remains, but gleaned a wealth of archaeological lore from sculptures and coins. Of this I 
cannot now speak save to utter my awe at a culture in the full noon of glory when cave- 
dwellers roamed Europe and the Nile flowed unwatched to the sea. Others, guided by this 
manuscript if it shall ever be found, must unfold the mysteries at which I can only hint. I 
returned to the boat as my electric batteries grew feeble, resolved to explore the rock temple 
on the following day. 

On the 17th, as my impulse to search out the mystery of the temple waxed still more insistent, 
a great disappointment befell me; for I found that the materials needed to replenish the 
portable light had perished in the mutiny of those pigs in July. My rage was unbounded, yet 
my German sense forbade me to venture unprepared into an utterly black interior which might 
prove the lair of some indescribable marine monster or a labyrinth of passages from whose 
windings I could never extricate myself. All I could do was to turn on the waning searchlight of 
the U-29, and with its aid walk up the temple steps and study the exterior carvings. The shaft 
of light entered the door at an upward angle, and I peered in to see if I could glimpse 
anything, but all in vain. Not even the roof was visible; and though I took a step or two inside 
after testing the floor with a staff, I dared not go farther. Moreover, for the first time in my life I 
experienced the emotion of dread. I began to realise how some of poor Klenze's moods had 
arisen, for as the temple drew me more and more, I feared its aqueous abysses with a blind 
and mounting terror. Returning to the submarine, I turned off the lights and sat thinking in the 
dark. Electricity must now be saved for emergencies. 

Saturday the 18th I spent in total darkness, tormented by thoughts and memories that 
threatened to overcome my German will. Klenze had gone mad and perished before reaching 
this sinister remnant of a past unwholesomely remote, and had advised me to go with him. 
Was, indeed. Fate preserving my reason only to draw me irresistibly to an end more horrible 

and unthinkable than any man has dreamed of? Clearly, my nerves were sorely taxed, and I 
must cast off these impressions of weaker men. 

I could not sleep Saturday night, and turned on the lights regardless of the future. It was 
annoying that the electricity should not last out the air and provisions. I revived my thoughts of 
euthanasia, and examined my automatic pistol. Toward morning I must have dropped asleep 
with the lights on, for I awoke in darkness yesterday afternoon to find the batteries dead. I 
struck several matches in succession, and desperately regretted the improvidence which had 
caused us long ago to use up the few candles we carried. 

After the fading of the last match I dared to waste, I sat very quietly without a light. As I 
considered the inevitable end my mind ran over preceding events, and developed a hitherto 
dormant impression which would have caused a weaker and more superstitious man to 
shudder. The head of the radiant god in the sculptures on the rock temple is the same as that 
carven bit of ivory which the dead sailor brought from the sea and which poor Klenze carried 
back into the sea. 

I was a little dazed by this coincidence, but did not become terrified. It is only the inferior 
thinker who hastens to explain the singular and the complex by the primitive short cut of 
supernaturalism. The coincidence was strange, but I was too sound a reasoner to connect 
circumstances which admit of no logical connexion, or to associate in any uncanny fashion 
the disastrous events which had led from the Victory aiiair to my present plight. Feeling the 
need of more rest, I took a sedative and secured some more sleep. My nervous condition was 
reflected in my dreams, for I seemed to hear the cries of drowning persons, and to see dead 
faces pressing against the portholes of the boat. And among the dead faces was the living, 
mocking face of the youth with the ivory image. 

I must be careful how I record my awaking today, for I am unstrung, and much hallucination is 
necessarily mixed with fact. Psychologically my case is most interesting, and I regret that it 
cannot be observed scientifically by a competent German authority. Upon opening my eyes 
my first sensation was an overmastering desire to visit the rock temple; a desire which grew 
every instant, yet which I automatically sought to resist through some emotion of fear which 
operated in the reverse direction. Next there came to me the impression of light amdst the 
darkness of dead batteries, and I seemed to see a sort of phosphorescent glow in the water 
through the porthole which opened toward the temple. This aroused my curiosity, for I knew of 
no deep-sea organism capable of emitting such luminosity. But before I could investigate 
there came a third impression which because of its irrationality caused me to doubt the 
objectivity of anything my senses might record. It was an aural delusion; a sensation of 
rhythmic, melodic sound as of some wild yet beautiful chant or choral hymn, coming from the 
outside through the absolutely sound-proof hull of the U-29. Convinced of my psychological 
and nervous abnormality, I lighted some matches and poured a stiff dose of sodium bromide 
solution, which seemed to calm me to the extent of dispelling the illusion of sound. But the 
phosphorescence remained, and I had difficulty in repressing a childish impulse to go to the 
porthole and seek its source. It was horribly realistic, and I could soon distinguish by its aid 
the familiar objects around me, as well as the empty sodium bromide glass of which I had had 
no former visual impression in its present location. The last circumstance made me ponder, 
and I crossed the room and touched the glass. It was indeed in the place where I had seemed 
to see it. Now I knew that the light was either real or part of an hallucination so fixed and 
consistent that I could not hope to dispel it, so abandoning all resistance I ascended to the 
conning tower to look for the luminous agency. Might it not actually be another U-boat, 
offering possibilities of rescue? 

It is well that the reader accept nothing which follows as objective truth, for since the events 
transcend natural law, they are necessarily the subjective and unreal creations of my 
overtaxed mind. When I attained the conning tower I found the sea In general far less 
luminous than I had expected. There was no animal or vegetable phosphorescence about, 
and the city that sloped down to the river was invisible in blackness. What I did see was not 
spectacular, not grotesque or terrifying, yet it removed my last vestige of trust in my 
consciousness. For the door and windows of the undersea temple hewn from the rocky hill 
were vividly aglow with a flickering radiance, as from a mighty altar-flame far within. 

Later incidents are chaotic. As I stared at the uncannily lighted door and windows, I became 
subject to the most extravagant visions — visions so extravagant that I cannot even relate 
them. I fancied that I discerned objects in the temple — objects both stationary and moving — 
and seemed to hear again the unreal chant that had floated to me when first I awaked. And 
over all rose thoughts and fears which centred in the youth from the sea and the ivory Image 
whose carving was duplicated on the frieze and columns of the temple before me. I thought of 
poor Klenze, and wondered where his body rested with the image he had carried back into 
the sea. He had warned me of something, and I had not heeded — but he was a soft-headed 
Rhinelander who went mad at troubles a Prussian could bear with ease. 

The rest is very simple. My impulse to visit and enter the temple has now become an 
inexplicable and Imperious command which ultimately cannot be denied. My own German will 
no longer controls my acts, and volition is henceforward possible only in minor matters. Such 
madness it was which drove Klenze to his death, bareheaded and unprotected in the ocean; 
but I am a Prussian and a man of sense, and will use to the last what little will I have. When 
first I saw that I must go, I prepared my diving suit, helmet, and air regenerator for Instant 
donning; and immediately commenced to write this hurried chronicle in the hope that it may 
some day reach the world. I shall seal the manuscript in a bottle and entrust it to the sea as I 
leave the U-29 forever. 

I have no fear, not even from the prophecies of the madman Klenze. What I have seen cannot 
be true, and I know that this madness of my own will at most lead only to suffocation when my 
air is gone. The light in the temple is a sheer delusion, and I shall die calmly, like a German, in 
the black and forgotten depths. This daemoniac laughter which I hear as I write comes only 
from my own weakening brain. So I will carefully don my diving suit and walk boldly up the 
steps into that primal shrine; that silent secret of unfathomed waters and uncounted years. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family 


Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal 
hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous. Science, already 
oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our 
human species — if separate species we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never 
be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world. If we knew what we are, we should do as 
Sir Arthur Jermyn did; and Arthur Jermyn soaked himself in oil and set fire to his clothing one 
night. No one placed the charred fragments in an urn or set a memorial to him who had been; 
for certain papers and a certain boxed object were found, which made men wish to forget. 
Some who knew him do not admit that he ever existed. 

Arthur Jermyn went out on the moor and burned himself after seeing the boxed Oib/ec^ which 
had come from Africa. It was this object, and not his peculiar personal appearance, which 
made him end his life. Many would have disliked to live if possessed of the peculiar features 
of Arthur Jermyn, but he had been a poet and scholar and had not minded. Learning was in 
his blood, for his great-grandfather, Sir Robert Jermyn, Bt., had been an anthropologist of 
note, whilst his great-great-great-grandfather. Sir Wade Jermyn, was one of the earliest 
explorers of the Congo region, and had written eruditely of its tribes, animals, and supposed 
antiquities. Indeed, old Sir Wade had possessed an intellectual zeal amounting almost to a 
mania; his bizarre conjectures on a prehistoric white Congolese civilisation earning him much 
ridicule when his book. Observations on the Several Parts of Africa, was published. In 1765 
this fearless explorer had been placed in a madhouse at Huntingdon. 

Madness was in all the Jermyns, and people were glad there were not many of them. The line 
put forth no branches, and Arthur was the last of it. If he had not been, one cannot say what 
he would have done when the object came. The Jermyns never seemed to look quite right — 
something was amiss, though Arthur was the worst, and the old family portraits in Jermyn 
House shewed fine faces enough before Sir Wade's time. Certainly, the madness began with 
Sir Wade, whose wild stories of Africa were at once the delight and terror of his few friends. It 
shewed in his collection of trophies and specimens, which were not such as a normal man 
would accumulate and preserve, and appeared strikingly in the Oriental seclusion in which he 
kept his wife. The latter, he had said, was the daughter of a Portuguese trader whom he had 
met in Africa; and did not like English ways. She, with an infant son born in Africa, had 
accompanied him back for the second and longest of his trips, and had gone with him on the 
third and last, never returning. No one had ever seen her closely, not even the servants; for 
her disposition had been violent and singular. During her brief stay at Jermyn House she 
occupied a remote wing, and was waited on by her husband alone. Sir Wade was, indeed, 
most peculiar in his solicitude for his family; for when he returned to Africa he would permit no 
one to care for his young son save a loathsome black woman from Guinea. Upon coming 
back, after the death of Lady Jermyn, he himself assumed complete care of the boy. 

But it was the talk of Sir Wade, especially when in his cups, which chiefly led his friends to 
deem him mad. In a rational age like the eighteenth century it was unwise for a man of 
learning to talk about wild sights and strange scenes under a Congo moon; of the gigantic 
walls and pillars of a forgotten city, crumbling and vine-grown, and of damp, silent, stone 
steps leading interminably down into the darkness of abysmal treasure-vaults and 
inconceivable catacombs. Especially was it unwise to rave of the living things that might haunt 

such a place; of creatures half of the jungle and half of the impiously aged city — fabulous 
creatures which even a Pliny might describe with scepticism; things that might have sprung 
up after the great apes had overrun the dying city with the walls and the pillars, the vaults and 
the weird carvings. Yet after he came home for the last time Sir Wade would speak of such 
matters with a shudderingly uncanny zest, mostly after his third glass at the Knight's Head; 
boasting of what he had found in the jungle and of how he had dwelt among terrible ruins 
known only to him. And finally he had spoken of the living things in such a manner that he 
was taken to the madhouse. He had shewn little regret when shut into the barred room at 
Huntingdon, for his mind moved curiously. Ever since his son had commenced to grow out of 
infancy he had liked his home less and less, till at last he had seemed to dread it. The 
Knight's Head had been his headquarters, and when he was confined he expressed some 
vague gratitude as if for protection. Three years later he died. 

Wade Jermyn's son Philip was a highly peculiar person. Despite a strong physical 
resemblance to his father, his appearance and conduct were in many particulars so coarse 
that he was universally shunned. Though he did not inherit the madness which was feared by 
some, he was densely stupid and given to brief periods of uncontrollable violence. In frame he 
was small, but intensely powerful, and was of incredible agility. Twelve years after succeeding 
to his title he married the daughter of his gamekeeper, a person said to be of gypsy 
extraction, but before his son was born joined the navy as a common sailor, completing the 
general disgust which his habits and mesalliance had begun. After the close of the American 
war he was heard of as a sailor on a merchantman in the African trade, having a kind of 
reputation for feats of strength and climbing, but finally disappearing one night as his ship lay 
off the Congo coast. 

In the son of Sir Philip Jermyn the now accepted family peculiarity took a strange and fatal 
turn. Tall and fairly handsome, with a sort of weird Eastern grace despite certain slight oddities 
of proportion, Robert Jermyn began life as a scholar and investigator. It was he who first 
studied scientifically the vast collection of relics which his mad grandfather had brought from 
Africa, and who made the family name as celebrated in ethnology as in exploration. In 1815 
Sir Robert married a daughter of the seventh Viscount Brightholme and was subsequently 
blessed with three children, the eldest and youngest of whom were never publicly seen on 
account of deformities in mind and body. Saddened by these family misfortunes, the scientist 
sought relief in work, and made two long expeditions in the interior of Africa. In 1849 his 
second son, Nevil, a singularly repellent person who seemed to combine the surliness of 
Philip Jermyn with the hauteur of the Brightholmes, ran away with a vulgar dancer, but was 
pardoned upon his return in the following year. He came back to Jermyn House a widower 
with an infant son, Alfred, who was one day to be the father of Arthur Jermyn. 

Friends said that it was this series of griefs which unhinged the mind of Sir Robert Jermyn, yet 
it was probably merely a bit of African folklore which caused the disaster. The elderly scholar 
had been collecting legends of the Onga tribes near the field of his grandfather's and his own 
explorations, hoping in some way to account for Sir Wade's wild tales of a lost city peopled by 
strange hybrid creatures. A certain consistency in the strange papers of his ancestor 
suggested that the madman's imagination might have been stimulated by native myths. On 
October 19, 1 852, the explorer Samuel Seaton called at Jermyn House with a manuscript of 
notes collected among the Ongas, believing that certain legends of a grey city of white apes 
ruled by a white god might prove valuable to the ethnologist. In his conversation he probably 
supplied many additional details; the nature of which will never be known, since a hideous 
series of tragedies suddenly burst into being. When Sir Robert Jermyn emerged from his 

library he left behind the strangled corpse of the explorer, and before he could be restrained, 
had put an end to all three of his children; the two who were never seen, and the son who had 
run away. Nevll Jermyn died In the successful defence of his own two-year-old son, who had 
apparently been included in the old man's madly murderous scheme. Sir Robert himself, after 
repeated attempts at suicide and a stubborn refusal to utter any articulate sound, died of 
apoplexy in the second year of his confinement. 

Sir Alfred Jermyn was a baronet before his fourth birthday, but his tastes never matched his 
title. At twenty he had joined a band of music-hall performers, and at thirty-six had deserted 
his wife and child to travel with an itinerant American circus. His end was very revolting. 
Among the animals in the exhibition with which he travelled was a huge bull gorilla of lighter 
colour than the average; a surprisingly tractable beast of much popularity with the performers. 
With this gorilla Alfred Jermyn was singularly fascinated, and on many occasions the two 
would eye each other for long periods through the intervening bars. Eventually Jermyn asked 
and obtained permission to train the animal, astonishing audiences and fellow-performers 
alike with his success. One morning in Chicago, as the gorilla and Alfred Jermyn were 
rehearsing an exceedingly clever boxing match, the former delivered a blow of more than 
usual force, hurting both the body and dignity of the amateur trainer. Of what followed, 
members of "The Greatest Show on Earth" do not like to speak. They did not expect to hear 
Sir Alfred Jermyn emit a shrill, inhuman scream, or to see him seize his clumsy antagonist 
with both hands, dash it to the floor of the cage, and bite fiendishly at its hairy throat. The 
gorilla was off its guard, but not for long, and before anything could be done by the regular 
trainer the body which had belonged to a baronet was past recognition. 


Arthur Jermyn was the son of Sir Alfred Jermyn and a music-hall singer of unknown origin. 
When the husband and father deserted his family, the mother took the child to Jermyn House; 
where there was none left to object to her presence. She was not without notions of what a 
nobleman's dignity should be, and saw to it that her son received the best education which 
limited money could provide. The family resources were now sadly slender, and Jermyn 
House had fallen into woeful disrepair, but young Arthur loved the old edifice and all its 
contents. He was not like any other Jermyn who had ever lived, for he was a poet and a 
dreamer. Some of the neighbouring families who had heard tales of old Sir Wade Jermyn's 
unseen Portuguese wife declared that her Latin blood must be shewing itself; but most 
persons merely sneered at his sensitiveness to beauty, attributing it to his music-hall mother, 
who was socially unrecognised. The poetic delicacy of Arthur Jermyn was the more 
remarkable because of his uncouth personal appearance. Most of the Jermyns had 
possessed a subtly odd and repellent cast, but Arthur's case was very striking. It is hard to 
say just what he resembled, but his expression, his facial angle, and the length of his arms 
gave a thrill of repulsion to those who met him for the first time. 

It was the mind and character of Arthur Jermyn which atoned for his aspect. Gifted and 
learned, he took highest honours at Oxford and seemed likely to redeem the intellectual fame 
of his family. Though of poetic rather than scientific temperament, he planned to continue the 
work of his forefathers in African ethnology and antiquities, utilising the truly wonderful though 
strange collection of Sir Wade. With his fanciful mind he thought often of the prehistoric 
civilisation in which the mad explorer had so implicitly believed, and would weave tale after 
tale about the silent jungle city mentioned in the latter's wilder notes and paragraphs. For the 
nebulous utterances concerning a nameless, unsuspected race of jungle hybrids he had a 
peculiar feeling of mingled terror and attraction; speculating on the possible basis of such a 

fancy, and seeking to obtain liglit among tine more recent data gleaned by liis great- 
grandfatlier and Samuel Seaton amongst the Ongas. 

In 1911 , after the death of his mother, Sir Arthur Jermyn determined to pursue his 
investigations to the utmost extent. Selling a portion of his estate to obtain the requisite 
money, he outfitted an expedition and sailed for the Congo. Arranging with the Belgian 
authorities for a party of guides, he spent a year in the Onga and Kaliri country, finding data 
beyond the highest of his expectations. Among the Kaliris was an aged chief called Mwanu, 
who possessed not only a highly retentive memory, but a singular degree of intelligence and 
interest in old legends. This ancient confirmed every tale which Jermyn had heard, adding his 
own account of the stone city and the white apes as it had been told to him. 

According to iVIwanu, the grey city and the hybrid creatures were no more, having been 
annihilated by the warlike N'bangus many years ago. This tribe, after destroying most of the 
edifices and killing the live beings, had carried off the stuffed goddess which had been the 
object of their quest; the white ape-goddess which the strange beings worshipped, and which 
was held by Congo tradition to be the form of one who had reigned as a princess among 
those beings. Just what the white ape-like creatures could have been, Mwanu had no idea, 
but he thought they were the builders of the ruined city. Jermyn could form no conjecture, but 
by close questioning obtained a very picturesque legend of the stuffed goddess. 

The ape-princess, it was said, became the consort of a great white god who had come out of 
the West. For a long time they had reigned over the city together, but when they had a son all 
three went away. Later the god and the princess had returned, and upon the death of the 
princess her divine husband had mummified the body and enshrined it in a vast house of 
stone, where it was worshipped. Then he had departed alone. The legend here seemed to 
present three variants. According to one story nothing further happened save that the stuffed 
goddess became a symbol of supremacy for whatever tribe might possess it. It was for this 
reason that the N'bangus carried it off. A second story told of the god's return and death at the 
feet of his enshrined wife. A third told of the return of the son, grown to manhood — or apehood 
or godhood, as the case might be — yet unconscious of his identity. Surely the imaginative 
blacks had made the most of whatever events might lie behind the extravagant legendry. 

Of the reality of the jungle city described by old Sir Wade, Arthur Jermyn had no further doubt; 
and was hardly astonished when early in 1912 he came upon what was left of it. Its size must 
have been exaggerated, yet the stones lying about proved that it was no mere negro village. 
Unfortunately no carvings could be found, and the small size of the expedition prevented 
operations toward clearing the one visible passageway that seemed to lead down into the 
system of vaults which Sir Wade had mentioned. The white apes and the stuffed goddess 
were discussed with all the native chiefs of the region, but it remained for a European to 
improve on the data offered by old IVIwanu. IVI. Verhaeren, Belgian agent at a trading-post on 
the Congo, believed that he could not only locate but obtain the stuffed goddess, of which he 
had vaguely heard; since the once mighty N'bangus were now the submissive servants of 
King Albert's government, and with but little persuasion could be induced to part with the 
gruesome deity they had carried off. When Jermyn sailed for England, thereifore, it was with 
the exultant probability that he would within a few months receive a priceless ethnological 
relic confirming the wildest of his great-great-great-grandfather's narratives — that is, the 
wildest which he had ever heard. Countrymen near Jermyn House had perhaps heard wilder 
tales handed down from ancestors who had listened to Sir Wade around the tables of the 
Knight's Head. 

Arthur Jermyn waited very patiently for tine expected box from M. Verliaeren, meanwiiile 
studying with Increased diligence the manuscripts left by his mad ancestor. He began to feel 
closely akin to Sir Wade, and to seek relics of the latter's personal life in England as well as of 
his African exploits. Oral accounts of the mysterious and secluded wife had been numerous, 
but no tangible relic of her stay at Jermyn House remained. Jermyn wondered what 
circumstance had prompted or permitted such an effacement, and decided that the husband's 
insanity was the prime cause. His great-great-great-grandmother, he recalled, was said to 
have been the daughter of a Portuguese trader in Africa. No doubt her practical heritage and 
superficial knowledge of the Dark Continent had caused her to flout Sir Wade's talk of the 
interior, a thing which such a man would not be likely to forgive. She had died In Africa, 
perhaps dragged thither by a husband determined to prove what he had told. But as Jermyn 
indulged in these reflections he could not but smile at their futility, a century and a half after 
the death of both of his strange progenitors. 

In June, 1913, a letter arrived from M. Verhaeren, telling of the finding of the stuffed goddess. 
It was, the Belgian averred, a most extraordinary object; an object quite beyond the power of 
a layman to classify. Whether it was human or simian only a scientist could determine, and 
the process of determination would be greatly hampered by its imperfect condition. Time and 
the Congo climate are not kind to mummies; especially when their preparation is as 
amateurish as seemed to be the case here. Around the creature's neck had been found a 
golden chain bearing an empty locket on which were armorial designs; no doubt some 
hapless traveller's keepsake, taken by the N'bangus and hung upon the goddess as a charm. 
In commenting on the contour of the mummy's face, M. Verhaeren suggested a whimsical 
comparison; or rather, expressed a humorous wonder just how it would strike his 
correspondent, but was too much interested scientifically to waste many words in levity. The 
stuffed goddess, he wrote, would arrive duly packed about a month after receipt of the letter. 

The boxed object was delivered at Jermyn House on the afternoon of August 3, 1913, being 
conveyed immediately to the large chamber which housed the collection of African specimens 
as arranged by Sir Robert and Arthur. What ensued can best be gathered from the tales of 
servants and from things and papers later examined. Of the various tales that of aged 
Soames, the family butler, is most ample and coherent. According to this trustworthy man. Sir 
Arthur Jermyn dismissed everyone from the room before opening the box, though the instant 
sound of hammer and chisel shewed that he did not delay the operation. Nothing was heard 
for some time; just how long Soames cannot exactly estimate; but it was certainly less than a 
quarter of an hour later that the horrible scream, undoubtedly in Jermyn's voice, was heard. 
Immediately afterward Jermyn emerged from the room, rushing frantically toward the front of 
the house as if pursued by some hideous enemy. The expression on his face, a face ghastly 
enough in repose, was beyond description. When near the front door he seemed to think of 
something, and turned back in his flight, finally disappearing down the stairs to the cellar. The 
servants were utterly dumbfounded, and watched at the head of the stairs, but their master 
did not return. A smell of oil was all that came up from the regions below. After dark a rattling 
was heard at the door leading from the cellar into the courtyard; and a stable-boy saw Arthur 
Jermyn, glistening from head to foot with oil and redolent of that fluid, steal furtively out and 
vanish on the black moor surrounding the house. Then, in an exaltation of supreme horror, 
everyone saw the end. A spark appeared on the moor, a flame arose, and a pillar of human 
fire reached to the heavens. The house of Jermyn no longer existed. 

The reason why Arthur Jermyn's charred fragments were not collected and buried lies in what 
was found afterward, principally the thing in the box. The stuffed goddess was a nauseous 

sight, withered and eaten away, but it was clearly a mummified white ape of some unknown 
species, less hairy than any recorded variety, and infinitely nearer mankind — quite shockingly 
so. Detailed description would be rather unpleasant, but two salient particulars must be told, 
for they fit in revoltingly with certain notes of Sir Wade Jermyn's African expeditions and with 
the Congolese legends of the white god and the ape-princess. The two particulars in question 
are these: the arms on the golden locket about the creature's neck were the Jermyn arms, 
and the jocose suggestion of IVI. Verhaeren about a certain resemblance as connected with 
the shrivelled face applied with vivid, ghastly, and unnatural horror to none other than the 
sensitive Arthur Jermyn, great-great-great-grandson of Sir Wade Jermyn and an unknown 
wife. IVIembers of the Royal Anthropological Institute burned the thing and threw the locket 
into a well, and some of them do not admit that Arthur Jermyn ever existed. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Street 


There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they 
have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street. 

Men of strength and honour fashioned that Street; good, valiant men of our blood who had 
come from the Blessed Isles across the sea. At first it was but a path trodden by bearers of 
water from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Then, as more men 
came to the growing cluster of houses and looked about for places to dwell, they built cabins 
along the north side; cabins of stout oaken logs with masonry on the side toward the forest, 
for many Indians lurked there with fire-arrows. And in a few years more, men built cabins on 
the south side of The Street. 

Up and down The Street walked grave men in conical hats, who most of the time carried 
muskets or fowling pieces. And there were also their bonneted wives and sober children. In 
the evening these men with their wives and children would sit about gigantic hearths and read 
and speak. Very simple were the things of which they read and spoke, yet things which gave 
them courage and goodness and helped them by day to subdue the forest and till the fields. 
And the children would listen, and learn of the laws and deeds of old, and of that dear 
England which they had never seen, or could not remember. 

There was war, and thereafter no more Indians troubled The Street. The men, busy with 
labour, waxed prosperous and as happy as they knew how to be. And the children grew up 
comfortably, and more families came from the Mother Land to dwell on The Street. And the 
children's children, and the newcomers' children, grew up. The town was now a city, and one 
by one the cabins gave place to houses; simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood, with 
stone steps and iron railings and fanlights over the doors. No flimsy creations were these 
houses, for they were made to serve many a generation. Within there were carven mantels 
and graceful stairs, and sensible, pleasing furniture, china, and silver, brought from the 
Mother Land. 

So The Street drank in the dreams of a young people, and rejoiced as its dwellers became 
more graceful and happy. Where once had been only strength and honour, taste and learning 
now abode as well. Books and paintings and music came to the houses, and the young men 
went to the university which rose above the plain to the north. In the place of conical hats and 
muskets there were three-cornered hats and small-swords, and lace and snowy periwigs. And 
there were cobblestones over which clattered many a blooded horse and rumbled many a 
gilded coach; and brick sidewalks with horse blocks and hitching-posts. 

There were in that Street many trees; elms and oaks and maples of dignity; so that in the 
summer the scene was all soft verdure and twittering bird-song. And behind the houses were 
walled rose-gardens with hedged paths and sundials, where at evening the moon and stars 
would shine bewitchingly while fragrant blossoms glistened with dew. 

So The Street dreamed on, past wars, calamities, and changes. Once most of the young men 
went away, and some never came back. That was when they furled the Old Flag and put up a 
new Banner of Stripes and Stars. But though men talked of great changes. The Street felt 
them not; for its folk were still the same, speaking of the old familiar things in the old familiar 
accents. And the trees still sheltered singing birds, and at evening the moon and stars looked 
down upon dewy blossoms in the walled rose-gardens. 

In time there were no more swords, three-cornered hats, or periwigs in The Street. How 
strange seemed the denizens with their walking-sticks, tall beavers, and cropped heads! New 
sounds came from the distance — first strange puffings and shrieks from the river a mile away, 
and then, many years later, strange puffings and shrieks and rumblings from other directions. 
The air was not quite so pure as before, but the spirit of the place had not changed. The blood 
and soul of the people were as the blood and soul of their ancestors who had fashioned The 
Street. Nor did the spirit change when they tore open the earth to lay down strange pipes, or 
when they set up tall posts bearing weird wires. There was so much ancient lore in that Street, 
that the past could not easily be forgotten. 

Then came days of evil, when many who had known The Street of old knew it no more; and 
many knew It, who had not known It before. And those who came were never as those who 
went away; for their accents were coarse and strident, and their mien and faces unpleasing. 
Their thoughts, too, fought with the wise, just spirit of The Street, so that The street pined 
silently as its houses fell into decay, and its trees died one by one, and its rose-gardens grew 
rank with weeds and waste. But It felt a stir of pride one day when again marched forth young 
men, some of whom never came back. These young men were clad In blue. 

With the years worse fortune came to The Street. Its trees were all gone now, and its rose- 
gardens were displaced by the backs of cheap, ugly new buildings on parallel streets. Yet the 
houses remained, despite the ravages of the years and the storms and worms, for they had 
been made to serve many a generation. New kinds of faces appeared in The Street; swarthy, 
sinister faces with furtive eyes and odd features, whose owners spoke unfamiliar words and 
placed signs in known and unknown characters upon most of the musty houses. Push-carts 
crowded the gutters. A sordid, undefinable stench settled over the place, and the ancient spirit 

Great excitement once came to The Street. War and revolution were raging across the seas; 
a dynasty had collapsed, and Its degenerate subjects were flocking with dubious Intent to the 
Western Land. Many of these took lodgings in the battered houses that had once known the 
songs of birds and the scent of roses. Then the Western Land itself awoke, and joined the 
Mother Land in her titanic struggle for civilisation. Over the cities once more floated the Old 
Flag, companioned by the New Flag and by a plainer yet glorious Tri-colour. But not many 
flags floated over The Street, for therein brooded only fear and hatred and Ignorance. Again 
young men went forth, but not quite as did the young men of those other days. Something 
was lacking. And the sons of those young men of other days, who did indeed go forth in olive- 
drab with the true spirit of their ancestors, went from distant places and knew not The Street 
and Its ancient spirit. 

Over the seas there was a great victory, and In triumph most of the young men returned. 
Those who had lacked something lacked it no longer, yet did fear and hatred and ignorance 
still brood over The Street; for many had stayed behind, and many strangers had come from 
distant places to the ancient houses. And the young men who had returned dwelt there no 
longer. Swarthy and sinister were most of the strangers, yet among them one might find a few 
faces like those who fashioned The Street and moulded Its spirit. Like and yet unlike, for there 
was in the eyes of all a weird, unhealthy glitter as of greed, ambition, vindictiveness, or 
misguided zeal. Unrest and treason were abroad amongst an evil few who plotted to strike the 
Western Land its death-blow, that they might mount to power over its ruins; even as assassins 
had mounted In that unhappy, frozen land from whence most of them had come. And the 
heart of that plotting was In The Street, whose crumbling houses teemed with alien makers of 

discord and echoed with the plans and speeches of those who yearned for the appointed day 
of blood, flame, and crime. 

Of the various odd assemblages in The Street, the law said much but could prove little. With 
great diligence did men of hidden badges linger and listen about such places as Petrovitch's 
Bakery, the squalid Rifkin School of Modern Economics, the Circle Social Club, and the 
Liberty Cafe. There congregated sinister men in great numbers, yet always was their speech 
guarded or in a foreign tongue. And still the old houses stood, with their forgotten lore of 
nobler, departed centuries; of sturdy colonial tenants and dewy rose-gardens in the moonlight. 
Sometimes a lone poet or traveller would come to view them, and would try to picture them in 
their vanished glory; yet of such travellers and poets there were not many. 

The rumour now spread widely that these houses contained the leaders of a vast band of 
terrorists, who on a designated day were to launch an orgy of slaughter for the extermination 
of America and of all the fine old traditions which The Street had loved. Handbills and papers 
fluttered about filthy gutters; handbills and papers printed in many tongues and in many 
characters, yet all bearing messages of crime and rebellion. In these writings the people were 
urged to tear down the laws and virtues that our fathers had exalted; to stamp out the soul of 
the old America — the soul that was bequeathed through a thousand and a half years of Anglo- 
Saxon freedom, justice, and moderation. It was said that the swart men who dwelt in The 
Street and congregated in its rotting edifices were the brains of a hideous revolution; that at 
their word of command many millions of brainless, besotted beasts would stretch forth their 
noisome talons from the slums of a thousand cities, burning, slaying, and destroying till the 
land of our fathers should be no more. All this was said and repeated, and many looked 
forward in dread to the fourth day of July, about which the strange writings hinted much; yet 
could nothing be found to place the guilt. None could tell just whose arrest might cut off the 
damnable plotting at its source. Many times came bands of blue-coated police to search the 
shaky houses, though at last they ceased to come; for they too had grown tired of law and 
order, and had abandoned all the city to its fate. Then men in olive-drab came, bearing 
muskets; till it seemed as if in its sad sleep The Street must have some haunting dreams of 
those other days, when musket-bearing men in conical hats walked along it from the 
woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Yet could no act be performed to 
check the impending cataclysm; for the swart, sinister men were old in cunning. 

So The Street slept uneasily on, till one night there gathered in Petrovitch's Bakery and the 
Rifkin School of Modern Economics, and the Circle Social Club, and Liberty Cafe, and in 
other places as well, vast hordes of men whose eyes were big with horrible triumph and 
expectation. Over hidden wires strange messages travelled, and much was said of still 
stranger messages yet to travel; but most of this was not guessed till afterward, when the 
Western Land was safe from the peril. The men in olive-drab could not tell what was 
happening, or what they ought to do; for the swart, sinister men were skilled in subtlety and 

And yet the men in olive-drab will always remember that night, and will speak of The Street as 
they tell of it to their grandchildren; for many of them were sent there toward morning on a 
mission unlike that which they had expected. It was known that this nest of anarchy was old, 
and that the houses were tottering from the ravages of the years and the storms and the 
worms; yet was the happening of that summer night a surprise because of its very queer 
uniformity. It was, indeed, an exceedingly singular happening; though after all a simple one. 
For without warning, in one of the small hours beyond midnight, all the ravages of the years 
and the storms and the worms came to a tremendous climax; and after the crash there was 

nothing left standing in Tlie Street save two ancient cliimneys and part of a stout brick wall. 
Nor did anything that had been alive come alive from the ruins. 

A poet and a traveller, who came with the mighty crowd that sought the scene, tell odd stories. 
The poet says that all through the hours before dawn he beheld sordid ruins but indistinctly in 
the glare of the arc-lights; that there loomed above the wreckage another picture wherein he 
could descry moonlight and fair houses and elms and oaks and maples of dignity. And the 
traveller declares that instead of the place's wonted stench there lingered a delicate fragrance 
as of roses in full bloom. But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers 
notoriously false? 

There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they 
have not; I dare not say, myself, but I have told you of The Street. 

Return to Table of Contents 



In a dream Kuranes saw the city in the valley, and the sea-coast beyond, and the snowy peak 
overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour toward the 
distant regions where the sea meets the sky. In a dream it was also that he came by his name 
of Kuranes, for when awake he was called by another name. Perhaps it was natural for him to 
dream a new name; for he was the last of his family, and alone among the indifferent millions 
of London, so there were not many to speak to him and remind him who he had been. His 
money and lands were gone, and he did not care for the ways of people about him, but 
preferred to dream and write of his dreams. What he wrote was laughed at by those to whom 
he shewed it, so that after a time he kept his writings to himself, and finally ceased to write. 
The more he withdrew from the world about him, the more wonderful became his dreams; and 
it would have been quite futile to try to describe them on paper. Kuranes was not modern, and 
did not think like others who wrote. Whilst they strove to strip from life its embroidered robes 
of myth, and to shew in naked ugliness the foul thing that is reality, Kuranes sought for beauty 
alone. When truth and experience failed to reveal it, he sought it in fancy and illusion, and 
found it on his very doorstep, amid the nebulous memories of childhood tales and dreams. 

There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and 
visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we think but half-formed 
thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of 
life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and 
gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of 
plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of 
heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know 
that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours 
before we were wise and unhappy. 

Kuranes came very suddenly upon his old world of childhood. He had been dreaming of the 
house where he was born; the great stone house covered with ivy, where thirteen generations 
of his ancestors had lived, and where he had hoped to die. It was moonlight, and he had 
stolen out into the fragrant summer night, through the gardens, down the terraces, past the 
great oaks of the park, and along the long white road to the village. The village seemed very 
old, eaten away at the edge like the moon which had commenced to wane, and Kuranes 
wondered whether the peaked roofs of the small houses hid sleep or death. In the streets 
were spears of long grass, and the window-panes on either side were either broken or filmily 
staring. Kuranes had not lingered, but had plodded on as though summoned toward some 
goal. He dared not disobey the summons for fear it might prove an illusion like the urges and 
aspirations of waking life, which do not lead to any goal. Then he had been drawn down a 
lane that led off from the village street toward the channel cliffs, and had come to the end of 
things — to the precipice and the abyss where all the village and all the world fell abruptly into 
the unechoing emptiness of infinity, and where even the sky ahead was empty and unlit by 
the crumbling moon and the peering stars. Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and 
into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down; past dark, shapeless, undreamed 
dreams, faintly glowing spheres that may have been partly dreamed dreams, and laughing 
winged things that seemed to mock the dreamers of all the worlds. Then a rift seemed to open 
in the darkness before him, and he saw the city of the valley, glistening radiantly far, far below, 
with a background of sea and sky, and a snow-capped mountain near the shore. 

Kuranes had awaked the very moment he beheld the city, yet he knew from his brief glance 
that it was none other than CelephaTs, In the Valley of Ooth-Nargal beyond the Tanarian Hills, 
where his spirit had dwelt all the eternity of an hour one summer afternoon very long ago, 
when he had slipt away from his nurse and let the warm sea-breeze lull him to sleep as he 
watched the clouds from the cliff near the village. He had protested then, when they had 
found him, waked him, and carried him home, for just as he was aroused he had been about 
to sail in a golden galley for those alluring regions where the sea meets the sky. And now he 
was equally resentful of awaking, for he had found his fabulous city after forty weary years. 

But three nights afterward Kuranes came again to CelephaTs. As before, he dreamed first of 
the village that was asleep or dead, and of the abyss down which one must float silently; then 
the rift appeared again, and he beheld the glittering minarets of the city, and saw the graceful 
galleys riding at anchor in the blue harbour, and watched the gingko trees of Mount Aran 
swaying in the sea-breeze. But this time he was not snatched away, and like a winged being 
settled gradually over a grassy hillside till finally his feet rested gently on the turf. He had 
indeed come back to the Valley of Ooth-Nargai and the splendid city of CelephaTs. 

Down the hill amid scented grasses and brilliant flowers walked Kuranes, over the bubbling 
Naraxa on the small wooden bridge where he had carved his name so many years ago, and 
through the whispering grove to the great stone bridge by the city gate. All was as of old, nor 
were the marble walls discoloured, nor the polished bronze statues upon them tarnished. And 
Kuranes saw that he need not tremble lest the things he knew be vanished; for even the 
sentries on the ramparts were the same, and still as young as he remembered them. When 
he entered the city, past the bronze gates and over the onyx pavements, the merchants and 
camel-drivers greeted him as if he had never been away; and it was the same at the turquoise 
temple of Nath-Horthath, where the orchid-wreathed priests told him that there is no time in 
Ooth-Nargai, but only perpetual youth. Then Kuranes walked through the Street of Pillars to 
the seaward wall, where gathered the traders and sailors, and strange men from the regions 
where the sea meets the sky. There he stayed long, gazing out over the bright harbour where 
the ripples sparkled beneath an unknown sun, and where rode lightly the galleys from far 
places over the water. And he gazed also upon Mount Aran rising regally from the shore, its 
lower slopes green with swaying trees and its white summit touching the sky. 

More than ever Kuranes wished to sail in a galley to the far places of which he had heard so 
many strange tales, and he sought again the captain who had agreed to carry him so long 
ago. He found the man, Athib, sitting on the same chest of spices he had sat upon before, 
and Athib seemed not to realise that any time had passed. Then the two rowed to a galley in 
the harbour, and giving orders to the oarsmen, commenced to sail out into the billowy 
Cerenerian Sea that leads to the sky. For several days they glided undulatingly over the 
water, till finally they came to the horizon, where the sea meets the sky. Here the galley 
paused not at all, but floated easily in the blue of the sky among fleecy clouds tinted with rose. 
And far beneath the keel Kuranes could see strange lands and rivers and cities of surpassing 
beauty, spread indolently in the sunshine which seemed never to lessen or disappear. At 
length Athib told him that their journey was near its end, and that they would soon enter the 
harbour of Serannian, the pink marble city of the clouds, which is built on that ethereal coast 
where the west wind flows into the sky; but as the highest of the city's carven towers came 
into sight there was a sound somewhere in space, and Kuranes awaked in his London garret. 

For many months after that Kuranes sought the marvellous city of CelephaTs and its sky- 
bound galleys in vain; and though his dreams carried him to many gorgeous and unheard-of 
places, no one whom he met could tell him how to find Ooth-Nargai, beyond the Tanarian 

Hills. One night he went flying over dark mountains where there were faint, lone campfires at 
great distances apart, and strange, shaggy herds with tinkling bells on the leaders; and in the 
wildest part of this hilly country, so remote that few men could ever have seen it, he found a 
hideously ancient wall or causeway of stone zigzagging along the ridges and valleys; too 
gigantic ever to have risen by human hands, and of such a length that neither end of it could 
be seen. Beyond that wall in the grey dawn he came to a land of quaint gardens and cherry 
trees, and when the sun rose he beheld such beauty of red and white flowers, green foliage 
and lawns, white paths, diamond brooks, blue lakelets, carven bridges, and red-roofed 
pagodas, that he for a moment forgot Celephais in sheer delight. But he remembered it again 
when he walked down a white path toward a red-roofed pagoda, and would have questioned 
the people of that land about it, had he not found that there were no people there, but only 
birds and bees and butterflies. On another night Kuranes walked up a damp stone spiral 
stainway endlessly, and came to a tower window overlooking a mighty plain and river lit by the 
full moon; and in the silent city that spread away from the river-bank he thought he beheld 
some feature or arrangement which he had known before. He would have descended and 
asked the way to Ooth-Nargai had not a fearsome aurora sputtered up from some remote 
place beyond the horizon, shewing the ruin and antiquity of the city, and the stagnation of the 
reedy river, and the death lying upon that land, as it had lain since King Kynaratholis came 
home from his conquests to find the vengeance of the gods. 

So Kuranes sought fruitlessly for the marvellous city of Celephais and its galleys that sail to 
Serannian in the sky, meanwhile seeing many wonders and once barely escaping from the 
high-priest not to be described, which wears a yellow silken mask over its face and dwells all 
alone in a prehistoric stone monastery on the cold desert plateau of Leng. In time he grew so 
impatient of the bleak intervals of day that he began buying drugs in order to increase his 
periods of sleep. Hasheesh helped a great deal, and once sent him to a part of space where 
form does not exist, but where glowing gases study the secrets of existence. And a violet- 
coloured gas told him that this part of space was outside what he had called infinity. The gas 
had not heard of planets and organisms before, but identified Kuranes merely as one from the 
infinity where matter, energy, and gravitation exist. Kuranes was now very anxious to return to 
minaret-studded Celephais, and increased his doses of drugs; but eventually he had no more 
money left, and could buy no drugs. Then one summer day he was turned out of his garret, 
and wandered aimlessly through the streets, drifting over a bridge to a place where the 
houses grew thinner and thinner. And it was there that fulfilment came, and he met the 
cortege of knights come from Celephais to bear him thither forever. 

Handsome knights they were, astride roan horses and clad in shining armour with tabards of 
cloth-of-gold curiously emblazoned. So numerous were they, that Kuranes almost mistook 
them for an army, but their leader told him they were sent in his honour; since it was he who 
had created Ooth-Nargai in his dreams, on which account he was now to be appointed its 
chief god for evermore. Then they gave Kuranes a horse and placed him at the head of the 
cavalcade, and all rode majestically through the downs of Surrey and onward toward the 
region where Kuranes and his ancestors were born. It was very strange, but as the riders 
went on they seemed to gallop back through Time; for whenever they passed through a 
village in the twilight they saw only such houses and villages as Chaucer or men before him 
might have seen, and sometimes they saw knights on horseback with small companies of 
retainers. When it grew dark they travelled more swiftly, till soon they were flying uncannily as 
if in the air. In the dim dawn they came upon the village which Kuranes had seen alive in his 
childhood, and asleep or dead in his dreams. It was alive now, and early villagers courtesied 
as the horsemen clattered down the street and turned off into the lane that ends in the abyss 

of dream. Kuranes had previously entered that abyss only at night, and wondered what it 
would look like by day; so he watched anxiously as the column approached its brink. Just as 
they galloped up the rising ground to the precipice a golden glare came somewhere out of the 
east and hid all the landscape in its effulgent draperies. The abyss was now a seething chaos 
of roseate and cerulean splendour, and invisible voices sang exultantly as the knightly 
entourage plunged over the edge and floated gracefully down past glittering clouds and 
silvery coruscations. Endlessly down the horsemen floated, their chargers pawing the aether 
as if galloping over golden sands; and then the luminous vapours spread apart to reveal a 
greater brightness, the brightness of the city Celephais, and the sea-coast beyond, and the 
snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour 
toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky. 

And Kuranes reigned thereafter over Ooth-Nargai and all the neighbouring regions of dream, 
and held his court alternately in Celephais and in the cloud-fashioned Serannian. He reigns 
there still, and will reign happily forever, though below the cliffs at Innsmouth the channel tides 
played mockingly with the body of a tramp who had stumbled through the half-deserted 
village at dawn; played mockingly, and cast it upon the rocks by ivy-covered Trevor Towers, 
where a notably fat and especially offensive millionaire brewer enjoys the purchased 
atmosphere of extinct nobility. 

Return to Table of Contents 

From Beyond 


Horrible beyond conception was the change which had taken place in my best friend, 
Crawford Tillinghast. I had not seen him since that day, two months and a half before, when 
he had told me toward what goal his physical and metaphysical researches were leading; 
when he had answered my awed and almost frightened remonstrances by driving me from his 
laboratory and his house in a burst of fanatical rage. I had known that he now remained 
mostly shut in the attic laboratory with that accursed electrical machine, eating little and 
excluding even the servants, but I had not thought that a brief period of ten weeks could so 
alter and disfigure any human creature. It is not pleasant to see a stout man suddenly grown 
thin, and it is even worse when the baggy skin becomes yellowed or greyed, the eyes sunken, 
circled, and uncannily glowing, the forehead veined and corrugated, and the hands tremulous 
and twitching. And if added to this there be a repellent unkemptness; a wild disorder of dress, 
a bushiness of dark hair white at the roots, and an unchecked growth of pure white beard on 
a face once clean-shaven, the cumulative effect is quite shocking. But such was the aspect of 
Crawford Tillinghast on the night his half -coherent message brought me to his door after my 
weeks of exile; such the spectre that trembled as it admitted me, candle in hand, and glanced 
furtively over its shoulder as if fearful of unseen things in the ancient, lonely house set back 
from Benevolent Street. 

That Crawford Tillinghast should ever have studied science and philosophy was a mistake. 
These things should be left to the frigid and impersonal investigator, for they offer two equally 
tragic alternatives to the man of feeling and action; despair if he fail in his quest, and terrors 
unutterable and unimaginable if he succeed. Tillinghast had once been the prey of failure, 
solitary and melancholy; but now I knew, with nauseating fears of my own, that he was the 
prey of success. I had indeed warned him ten weeks before, when he burst forth with his tale 
of what he felt himself about to discover. He had been flushed and excited then, talking in a 
high and unnatural, though always pedantic, voice. 

"What do we know," he had said, "of the world and the universe about us? Our means of 
receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely 
narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their 
absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex 
cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only 
see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, 
energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I 
have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and 
now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty- 
four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognised sense- 
organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us 
many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We 
shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after 
midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet 
seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the 
bottom of creation. 

When Tillinghast said these things I remonstrated, for I knew him well enough to be frightened 
rather than amused; but he was a fanatic, and drove me from the house. Now he was no less 

a fanatic, but his desire to speak liad conquered liis resentment, and lie liad written me 
Imperatively In a hand I could scarcely recognise. As I entered the abode of the friend so 
suddenly metamorphosed to a shivering gargoyle, I became Infected with the terror which 
seemed stalking In all the shadows. The words and beliefs expressed ten weeks before 
seemed bodied forth in the darkness beyond the small circle of candle light, and I sickened at 
the hollow, altered voice of my host. I wished the servants were about, and did not like It when 
he said they had all left three days previously. It seemed strange that old Gregory, at least, 
should desert his master without telling as tried a friend as I. It was he who had given me all 
the information I had of Tilllnghast after I was repulsed in rage. 

Yet I soon subordinated all my fears to my growing curiosity and fascination. Just what 
Crawford Tilllnghast now wished of me I could only guess, but that he had some stupendous 
secret or discovery to Impart, I could not doubt. Before I had protested at his unnatural 
prylngs Into the unthinkable; now that he had evidently succeeded to some degree I almost 
shared his spirit, terrible though the cost of victory appeared. Up through the dark emptiness 
of the house I followed the bobbing candle in the hand of this shaking parody on man. The 
electricity seemed to be turned off, and when I asked my guide he said it was for a definite 

"It would be too much ... I would not dare," he continued to mutter. I especially noted his new 
habit of muttering, for It was not like him to talk to himself. We entered the laboratory In the 
attic, and I observed that detestable electrical machine, glowing with a sickly, sinister, violet 
luminosity. It was connected with a powerful chemical battery, but seemed to be receiving no 
current; for I recalled that In Its experimental stage It had sputtered and purred when In action. 
In reply to my question Tilllnghast mumbled that this permanent glow was not electrical In any 
sense that I could understand. 

He now seated me near the machine, so that It was on my right, and turned a switch 
somewhere below the crowning cluster of glass bulbs. The usual sputtering began, turned to 
a whine, and terminated in a drone so soft as to suggest a return to silence. Meanwhile the 
luminosity Increased, waned again, then assumed a pale, outre colour or blend of colours 
which I could neither place nor describe. Tilllnghast had been watching me, and noted my 
puzzled expression. 

"Do you know what that Is?" he whispered. " That is ultra-violet." He chuckled oddly at my 
surprise. "You thought ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is — but you can see that and many 
other invisible things now. 

"Listen to me! The waves from that thing are waking a thousand sleeping senses in us; 
senses which we Inherit from aeons of evolution from the state of detached electrons to the 
state of organic humanity. I have seen truth, and I Intend to shew It to you. Do you wonder 
how It will seem? I will tell you." Here Tilllnghast seated himself directly opposite me, blowing 
out his candle and staring hideously Into my eyes. "Your existing sense-organs — ears first, I 
think — will pick up many of the Impressions, for they are closely connected with the dormant 
organs. Then there will be others. You have heard of the pineal gland? I laugh at the shallow 
endocrinologist, fellow-dupe and fellow-parvenu of the Freudian. That gland Is the great 
sense-organ of organs — / have found out. It is like sight in the end, and transmits visual 
pictures to the brain. If you are normal, that is the way you ought to get most of it ... I mean 
get most of the evidence from beyond." 

I looked about the Immense attic room with the sloping south wall, dimly lit by rays which the 
every-day eye cannot see. The far corners were all shadows, and the whole place took on a 

hazy unreality which obscured its nature and invited the imagination to symbolism and 
phantasm. During the Interval that Tlllinghast was silent I fancied myself in some vast and 
incredible temple of long-dead gods; some vague edifice of innumerable black stone columns 
reaching up from a floor of damp slabs to a cloudy height beyond the range of my vision. The 
picture was very vivid for a while, but gradually gave way to a more horrible conception; that 
of utter, absolute solitude in infinite, sightless, soundless space. There seemed to be a void, 
and nothing more, and I felt a childish fear which prompted me to draw from my hip pocl^et 
the revolver I always carried after dark since the night I was held up in East Providence. Then, 
from the farthermost regions of remoteness, the sound softly glided into existence. It was 
infinitely faint, subtly vibrant, and unmistakably musical, but held a quality of surpassing 
wildness which made its impact feel like a delicate torture of my whole body. I felt sensations 
like those one feels when accidentally scratching ground glass. Simultaneously there 
developed something like a cold draught, which apparently swept past me from the direction 
of the distant sound. As I waited breathlessly I perceived that both sound and wind were 
increasing; the effect being to give me an odd notion of myself as tied to a pair of rails in the 
path of a gigantic approaching locomotive. I began to speak to Tlllinghast, and as I did so all 
the unusual impressions abruptly vanished. I saw only the man, the glowing machine, and the 
dim apartment. Tlllinghast was grinning repulsively at the revolver which I had almost 
unconsciously drawn, but from his expression I was sure he had seen and heard as much as 
I, if not a great deal more. I whispered what I had experienced, and he bade me to remain as 
quiet and receptive as possible. 

"Don't move," he cautioned, "for in these rays we are able to be seen as well as to see. I told 
you the servants left, but I didn't tell you how. It was that thick-witted housekeeper — she 
turned on the lights downstairs after I had warned her not to, and the wires picked up 
sympathetic vibrations. It must have been frightful — I could hear the screams up here in spite 
of all I was seeing and hearing from another direction, and later it was rather awful to find 
those empty heaps of clothes around the house. Mrs. Updike's clothes were close to the front 
hall switch — that's how I know she did it. It got them all. But so long as we don't move we're 
fairly safe. Remember we're dealing with a hideous world in which we are practically helpless. 
. . . Keep still!" 

The combined shock of the revelation and of the abrupt command gave me a kind of 
paralysis, and in my terror my mind again opened to the impressions coming from what 
Tlllinghast called "beyond'. I was now in a vortex of sound and motion, with confused pictures 
before my eyes. I saw the blurred outlines of the room, but from some point in space there 
seemed to be pouring a seething column of unrecognisable shapes or clouds, penetrating the 
solid roof at a point ahead and to the right of me. Then I glimpsed the temple-like effect again, 
but this time the pillars reached up into an aerial ocean of light, which sent down one blinding 
beam along the path of the cloudy column I had seen before. After that the scene was almost 
wholly kaleidoscopic, and in the jumble of sights, sounds, and unidentified sense-impressions 
I felt that I was about to dissolve or in some way lose the solid form. One definite flash I shall 
always remember. I seemed for an instant to behold a patch of strange night sky filled with 
shining, revolving spheres, and as it receded I saw that the glowing suns formed a 
constellation or galaxy of settled shape; this shape being the distorted face of Crawford 
Tlllinghast. At another time I felt the huge animate things brushing past me and occasionally 
walking or drifting through my supposedly solid body and thought I saw Tlllinghast look at 
them as though his better trained senses could catch them visually. I recalled what he had 
said of the pineal gland, and wondered what he saw with this preternatural eye. 

Suddenly I myself became possessed of a kind of augmented sight. Over and above the 
luminous and shadowy chaos arose a picture which, though vague, held the elements of 
consistency and permanence. It was Indeed somewhat familiar, for the unusual part was 
superimposed upon the usual terrestrial scene much as a cinema view may be thrown upon 
the painted curtain of a theatre. I saw the attic laboratory, the electrical machine, and the 
unsightly form of Tillinghast opposite me; but of all the space unoccupied by familiar material 
objects not one particle was vacant. Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were 
mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, 
unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of 
other unknown things, and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were great inky, 
jellyish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. 
They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that 
they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know 
as solids. These things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant 
purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its 
victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from sight. Shudderingly I felt that I knew 
what had obliterated the unfortunate servants, and could not exclude the things from my mind 
as I strove to observe other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around us. 
But Tillinghast had been watching me, and was speaking. 

"You see them? You see them? You see the things that float and flop about you and through 
you every moment of your life? You see the creatures that form what men call the pure air and 
the blue sky? Have I not succeeded in breaking down the barrier; have I not shewn you 
worlds that no other living men have seen?" I heard him scream through the horrible chaos, 
and looked at the wild face thrust so offensively close to mine. His eyes were pits of flame, 
and they glared at me with what I now saw was overwhelming hatred. The machine droned 

"You think those floundering things wiped out the servants? Fool, they are harmless! But the 
servants are gone, aren't they? You tried to stop me; you discouraged me when I needed 
every drop of encouragement I could get; you were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned 
coward, but now I've got you! What swept up the servants? What made them scream so 
loud? . . . Don't know, eh? You'll know soon enough! Look at me — listen to what I say — do you 
suppose there are really any such things as time and magnitude? Do you fancy there are 
such things as form or matter? I tell you, I have struck depths that your little brain can't 
picture! I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars. . . 
. I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness. . . 
. Space belongs to me, do you hear? Things are hunting me now — the things that devour and 
dissolve — but I know how to elude them. It is you they will get, as they got the servants. 
Stirring, dear sir? I told you it was dangerous to move. I have saved you so far by telling you 
to keep still — saved you to see more sights and to listen to me. If you had moved, they would 
have been at you long ago. Don't worry, they won't hurt you. They didn't hurt the servants — it 
was seeing that made the poor devils scream so. My pets are not pretty, for they come out of 
places where aesthetic standards are — very different Disintegration is quite painless, I assure 
you — but / want you to see them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop. You are not 
curious? I always knew you were no scientist! Trembling, eh? Trembling with anxiety to see 
the ultimate things I have discovered? Why don't you move, then? Tired? Well, don't worry, 
my friend, for they are coming. . . . Look! Look, curse you, look! . . . It's just over your left 
shoulder. . . ." 

What remains to be told is very brief, and may be familiar to you from the newspaper 
accounts. The police heard a shot in the old Tillinghast house and found us there — Tllllnghast 
dead and me unconscious. They arrested me because the revolver was in my hand, but 
released me in three hours, after they found it was apoplexy which had finished Tillinghast 
and saw that my shot had been directed at the noxious machine which now lay hopelessly 
shattered on the laboratory floor. I did not tell very much of what I had seen, for I feared the 
coroner would be sceptical; but from the evasive outline I did give, the doctor told me that I 
had undoubtedly been hypnotised by the vindictive and homicidal madman. 

I wish I could believe that doctor. It would help my shaky nerves if I could dismiss what I now 
have to think of the air and the sky about and above me. I never feel alone or comfortable, 
and a hideous sense of pursuit sometimes comes chillingly on me when I am weary. What 
prevents me from believing the doctor is this one simple fact — that the police never found the 
bodies of those servants whom they say Crawford Tillinghast murdered. 

Return to Table of Contents 



Nyarlathotep ... the crawling chaos ... I am the last ... I will tell the audient void. . . . 

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was 
horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding 
apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a 
danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the 
people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies 
which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense 
of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill 
currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in 
the sequence of the seasons — the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that 
the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to 
that of gods or forces which were unknown. 

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was 
of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet 
could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, 
and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation 
came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass 
and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the 
sciences — of electricity and psychology — and gave exhibitions of power which sent his 
spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men 
advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest 
vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the 
screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they 
could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the 
pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples 
crumbling against a sickly sky. 

I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city — the great, the old, the terrible city of 
unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling fascination and 
allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to explore his uttermost mysteries. 
My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; that 
what was thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep 
dared prophesy, and that in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which had 
never been taken before yet which shewed only in the eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that 
those who knew Nyarlathotep looked on sights which others saw not. 

It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds to see 
Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room. And 
shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering from 
behind fallen monuments. And I saw the world battling against blackness; against the waves 
of destruction from ultimate space; whirling, churning; struggling around the dimming, cooling 
sun. Then the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up 
on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. 
And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest 
about "imposture" and "static electricity", Nyarlathotep drave us all out, down the dizzy stairs 

into the damp, hot, deserted midnight streets. I screamed aloud that I was nof afraid; that I 
never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We sware to one another that 
the city was exactly the same, and still alive; and when the electric lights began to fade we 
cursed the company over and over again, and laughed at the queer faces we made. 

I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we began to 
depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary formations and seemed to know our 
destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and found 
the blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to shew where the 
tramways had run. And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost 
on its side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river, 
and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split up 
into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn In a different direction. One disappeared 
in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a 
weed-choked subway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was 
sucked toward the open country, and presently felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for 
as we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter of evil 
snows. Trackless, inexplicable snows, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a gulf all 
the blacker for its glittering walls. The column seemed very thin indeed as it plodded dreamily 
into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the black rift in the green-litten snow was frightful, and I 
thought I had heard the reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but 
my power to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half floated 
between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the sightless vortex of the 

Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A sickened, sensitive 
shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of 
rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush 
the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous 
things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space 
and reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this 
revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, 
monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond 
Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly 
the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods— the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Picture in the House 


Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, 
and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of 
ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of 
forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and 
they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the 
terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of 
existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; 
for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to 
form the perfection of the hideous. 

Most horrible of all sights are the little unpainted wooden houses remote from travelled ways, 
usually squatted upon some damp, grassy slope or leaning against some gigantic outcropping 
of rock. Two hundred years and more they have leaned or squatted there, while the vines 
have crawled and the trees have swelled and spread. They are almost hidden now in lawless 
luxuriances of green and guardian shrouds of shadow; but the small-paned windows still stare 
shockingly, as if blinking through a lethal stupor which wards off madness by dulling the 
memory of unutterable things. 

In such houses have dwelt generations of strange people, whose like the world has never 
seen. Seized with a gloomy and fanatical belief which exiled them from their kind, their 
ancestors sought the wilderness for freedom. There the scions of a conquering race indeed 
flourished free from the restrictions of their fellows, but cowered in an appalling slavery to the 
dismal phantasms of their own minds. Divorced from the enlightenment of civilisation, the 
strength of these Puritans turned into singular channels; and in their isolation, morbid self- 
repression, and struggle for life with relentless Nature, there came to them dark furtive traits 
from the prehistoric depths of their cold Northern heritage. By necessity practical and by 
philosophy stern, these folk were not beautiful in their sins. Erring as all mortals must, they 
were forced by their rigid code to seek concealment above all else; so that they came to use 
less and less taste in what they concealed. Only the silent, sleepy, staring houses in the 
backwoods can tell all that has lain hidden since the early days; and they are not 
communicative, being loath to shake off the drowsiness which helps them forget. Sometimes 
one feels that it would be merciful to tear down these houses, for they must often dream. 

It was to a time-battered edifice of this description that I was driven one afternoon in 
November, 1896, by a rain of such chilling copiousness that any shelter was preferable to 
exposure. I had been travelling for some time amongst the people of the Miskatonic Valley in 
quest of certain genealogical data; and from the remote, devious, and problematical nature of 
my course, had deemed it convenient to employ a bicycle despite the lateness of the season. 
Now I found myself upon an apparently abandoned road which I had chosen as the shortest 
cut to Arkham; overtaken by the storm at a point far from any town, and confronted with no 
refuge save the antique and repellent wooden building which blinked with bleared windows 
from between two huge leafless elms near the foot of a rocky hill. Distant though it was from 
the remnant of a road, the house none the less impressed me unfavourably the very moment 
I espied it. Honest, wholesome structures do not stare at travellers so slyly and hauntingly, 
and in my genealogical researches I had encountered legends of a century before which 
biassed me against places of this kind. Yet the force of the elements was such as to 

overcome my scruples, and I did not hesitate to wlieel my macliine up tine weedy rise to tine 
closed door which seemed at once so suggestive and secretive. 

I had somehow taken it for granted that the house was abandoned, yet as I approached it I 
was not so sure; for though the walks were Indeed overgrown with weeds, they seemed to 
retain their nature a little too well to argue complete desertion. Therefore instead of trying the 
door I knocked, feeling as I did so a trepidation I could scarcely explain. As I waited on the 
rough, mossy rock which served as a doorstep, I glanced at the neighbouring windows and 
the panes of the transom above me, and noticed that although old, rattling, and almost 
opaque with dirt, they were not broken. The building, then, must still be inhabited, despite its 
isolation and general neglect. However, my rapping evoked no response, so after repeating 
the summons I tried the rusty latch and found the door unfastened. Inside was a little 
vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint 
but peculiarly hateful odour. I entered, carrying my bicycle, and closed the door behind me. 
Ahead rose a narrow staircase, flanked by a small door probably leading to the cellar, while to 
the left and right were closed doors leading to rooms on the ground floor. 

Leaning my cycle against the wall I opened the door at the left, and crossed into a small low- 
ceiled chamber but dimly lighted by its two dusty windows and furnished in the barest and 
most primitive possible way. It appeared to be a kind of sitting-room, for it had a table and 
several chairs, and an immense fireplace above which ticked an antique clock on a mantel. 
Books and papers were very few, and in the prevailing gloom I could not readily discern the 
titles. What interested me was the uniform air of archaism as displayed in every visible detail. 
Most of the houses in this region I had found rich in relics of the past, but here the antiquity 
was curiously complete; for in all the room I could not discover a single article of definitely 
post-revolutionary date. Had the furnishings been less humble, the place would have been a 
collector's paradise. 

As I surveyed this quaint apartment, I felt an increase in that aversion first excited by the 
bleak exterior of the house. Just what it was that I feared or loathed, I could by no means 
define; but something in the whole atmosphere seemed redolent of unhallowed age, of 
unpleasant crudeness, and of secrets which should be forgotten. I felt disinclined to sit down, 
and wandered about examining the various articles which I had noticed. The first object of my 
curiosity was a book of medium size lying upon the table and presenting such an antediluvian 
aspect that I marvelled at beholding it outside a museum or library. It was bound in leather 
with metal fittings, and was in an excellent state of preservation; being altogether an unusual 
sort of volume to encounter in an abode so lowly. When I opened it to the title page my 
wonder grew even greater, for it proved to be nothing less rare than Pigafetta's account of the 
Congo region, written in Latin from the notes of the sailor Lopez and printed at Frankfort in 
1598. I had often heard of this work, with its curious illustrations by the brothers De Bry, hence 
for a moment forgot my uneasiness in my desire to turn the pages before me. The engravings 
were indeed interesting, drawn wholly from imagination and careless descriptions, and 
represented negroes with white skins and Caucasian features; nor would I soon have closed 
the book had not an exceedingly trivial circumstance upset my tired nerves and revived my 
sensation of disquiet. What annoyed me was merely the persistent way in which the volume 
tended to fall open of itself at Plate XII, which represented in gruesome detail a butcher's 
shop of the cannibal Anziques. I experienced some shame at my susceptibility to so slight a 
thing, but the drawing nevertheless disturbed me, especially in connexion with some adjacent 
passages descriptive of Anzique gastronomy. 

I had turned to a neighbouring shelf and was examining its meagre literary contents — an 
eighteenth-century Bible, a Pilgrim's Progress of like period, illustrated with grotesque 
woodcuts and printed by the almanack-maker Isaiah Thomas, the rotting bulk of Cotton 
Mather's Magnaiia Christi Americana, and a few other books of evidently equal age — when 
my attention was aroused by the unmistakable sound of walking in the room overhead. At first 
astonished and startled, considering the lack of response to my recent knocking at the door, I 
immediately afterward concluded that the walker had just awakened from a sound sleep; and 
listened with less surprise as the footsteps sounded on the creaking stairs. The tread was 
heavy, yet seemed to contain a curious quality of cautiousness; a quality which I disliked the 
more because the tread was heavy. When I had entered the room I had shut the door behind 
me. Now, after a moment of silence during which the walker may have been inspecting my 
bicycle in the hall, I heard a fumbling at the latch and saw the panelled portal swing open 

In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I should have exclaimed 
aloud but for the restraints of good breeding. Old, white-bearded, and ragged, my host 
possessed a countenance and physique which inspired equal wonder and respect. His height 
could not have been less than six feet, and despite a general air of age and poverty he was 
stout and powerful in proportion. His face, almost hidden by a long beard which grew high on 
the cheeks, seemed abnormally ruddy and less wrinkled than one might expect; while over a 
high forehead fell a shock of white hair little thinned by the years. His blue eyes, though a 
trifle bloodshot, seemed inexplicably keen and burning. But for his horrible unkemptness the 
man would have been as distinguished-looking as he was impressive. This unkemptness, 
however, made him offensive despite his face and figure. Of what his clothing consisted I 
could hardly tell, for it seemed to me no more than a mass of tatters surmounting a pair of 
high, heavy boots; and his lack of cleanliness surpassed description. 

The appearance of this man, and the instinctive fear he inspired, prepared me for something 
like enmity; so that I almost shuddered through surprise and a sense of uncanny incongruity 
when he motioned me to a chair and addressed me in a thin, weak voice full of fawning 
respect and ingratiating hospitality. His speech was very curious, an extreme form of Yankee 
dialect I had thought long extinct; and I studied it closely as he sat down opposite me for 

"Ketched in the rain, be ye?" he greeted. "Glad ye was nigh the haouse en' hed the sense ta 
come right in. I calc'late I was asleep, else I'd a heerd ye — I ain't as young as I uster be, an' I 
need a paowerful sight o' naps naowadays. Trav'lin' fur? 1 hain't seed many folks 'long this rud 
sence they tuk off the Arkham stage." 

I replied that I was going to Arkham, and apologised for my rude entry into his domicile, 
whereupon he continued. 

"Glad ta see ye, young Sir — new faces is source arount here, an' I hain't got much ta cheer 
me up these days. Guess yew hail from Besting, don't ye? 1 never ben thar, but 1 kin tell a 
taown man when I see 'im — we hed one fer deestrick schoolmaster in 'eighty-four, but he quit 
suddent an' no one never heerd on 'im sence — " Here the old man lapsed into a kind of 
chuckle, and made no explanation when I questioned him. He seemed to be in an 
aboundingly good humour, yet to possess those eccentricities which one might guess from his 
grooming. I^or some time he rambled on with an almost feverish geniality, when it struck me 
to ask him how he came by so rare a book as Pigafetta's Regnum Congo. The effect of this 
volume had not left me, and I felt a certain hesitancy in speaking of it; but curiosity 
overmastered all the vague fears which had steadily accumulated since my first glimpse of 

the house. To my relief, the question did not seem an awkward one; for the old man answered 
freely and volubly. 

"Oh, thet Afriky book? Cap'n Ebenezer Holt traded me thet in 'sixty-eight — him as was kilt in 
the war." Something about the name of Ebenezer Holt caused me to look up sharply. I had 
encountered it In my genealogical work, but not in any record since the Revolution. I 
wondered if my host could help me in the task at which I was labouring, and resolved to ask 
him about it later on. He continued. 

"Ebenezer was on a Salem merchantman for years, an' picked up a sight o' queer stuff in 
every port. He got this in London, I guess — he uster like ter buy things at the shops. I was up 
ta his haouse onct, on the hill, tradin' bosses, when I see this book. I relished the picters, so 
he give it in on a swap. 'Tis a queer book — here, leave me git on my spectacles — " The old 
man fumbled among his rags, producing a pair of dirty and amazingly antique glasses with 
small octagonal lenses and steel bows. Donning these, he reached for the volume on the 
table and turned the pages lovingly. 

"Ebenezer cud read a leetle o' this — 'tis Latin — but ! can't. I hed two er three schoolmasters 
read me a bit, and Passon Clark, him they say got draownded in the pond — kin yew make 
anything outen it?" i told him that 1 could, and translated for his benefit a paragraph near the 
beginning. If I erred, he was not scholar enough to correct me; for he seemed childishly 
pleased at my English version. His proximity was becoming rather obnoxious, yet I saw no 
way to escape without offending him. I was amused at the childish fondness of this ignorant 
old man for the pictures in a book he could not read, and wondered how much better he could 
read the few books in English which adorned the room. This revelation of simplicity removed 
much of the ill-defined apprehension I had felt, and I smiled as my host rambled on: 

"Queer haow picters kin set a body thinkin'. Take this un here near the front. Hev yew ever 
seed trees like thet, with big leaves a-floppin' over an' daown? And them men — them can't be 
niggers — they dew beat all. Kinder like Injuns, I guess, even ef they be in Afriky. Some o' 
these here critters looks like monkeys, or half monkeys an' half men, but I never heerd o' 
nothing like this un." Here he pointed to a fabulous creature of the artist, which one might 
describe as a sort of dragon with the head of an alligator. 

"But naow I'll shew ye the best un — over here nigh the middle — " The old man's speech grew 
a trifle thicker and his eyes assumed a brighter glow; but his fumbling hands, though 
seemingly clumsier than before, were entirely adequate to their mission. The book fell open, 
almost of its own accord and as if from frequent consultation at this place, to the repellent 
twelfth plate shewing a butcher's shop amongst the Anzique cannibals. My sense of 
restlessness returned, though I did not exhibit it. The especially bizarre thing was that the 
artist had made his Africans look like white men — the limbs and quarters hanging about the 
walls of the shop were ghastly, while the butcher with his axe was hideously incongruous. But 
my host seemed to relish the view as much as I disliked it. 

"What d'ye think o' this — ain't never see the like hereabouts, eh? When I see this I felled Eb 
Holt, 'That's suthin' ta stir ye up an' make yer blood tickle!' When I read in Scripter about 
slayin' — like them MIdianltes was slew — I kinder think things, but I ain't got no picter of it. Here 
a body kin see all they is to it — I s'pose 'tis sinful, but ain't we all born an' livin' in sin? — Thet 
feller bein' chopped up gives me a tickle every time I look at 'im — I hev ta keep lookin' at 'im — 
see whar the butcher cut off his feet? Thar's his head on thet bench, with one arm side of it, 
an' t'other arm's on the graound side o' the meat block." 

As the man mumbled on in his shocking ecstasy the expression on his hairy, spectacled face 
became indescribable, but his voice sank rather than mounted. My own sensations can 
scarcely be recorded. All the terror I had dimly felt before rushed upon me actively and vividly, 
and I knew that I loathed the ancient and abhorrent creature so near me with an infinite 
intensity. His madness, or at least his partial perversion, seemed beyond dispute. He was 
almost whispering now, with a huskiness more terrible than a scream, and I trembled as I 

"As I says, 'tis queer haow picters sets ye thinkin'. D'ye know, young Sir, I'm right sot on this 
un here. Arter I got the book off Eb I uster look at it a lot, especial when I'd heard Passon 
Clark rant o' Sundays in his big wig. Onct I tried suthin' funny — here, young Sir, don't git 
skeert — all I done was ter look at the picter afore I kilt the sheep for market — killin' sheep was 
kinder more fun arter lookin' at it — " The tone of the old man now sank very low, sometimes 
becoming so faint that his words were hardly audible. I listened to the rain, and to the rattling 
of the bleared, small-paned windows, and marked a rumbling of approaching thunder quite 
unusual for the season. Once a terrific flash and peal shook the frail house to its foundations, 
but the whisperer seemed not to notice it. 

"Killin' sheep was kinder more fun — but d'ye know, 'twan't quite satisfyin'. Queer haow a 
crawn' gits a holt on ye — As ye love the Almighty, young man, don't tell nobody, but I swar ter 
Gawd thet picter begun ta make me hungry fer victuals I couldn't raise nor buy— here, set still, 
what's ailin' ye? — I didn't do nothin', only I wondered haow 'twud be ef I did— They say meat 
makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered ef 'twudn't make a man live longer 
an' longer ef 'twas more the same — " But the whisperer never continued. The interruption was 
not produced by my fright, nor by the rapidly increasing storm amidst whose fury I was 
presently to open my eyes on a smoky solitude of blackened ruins. It was produced by a very 
simple though somewhat unusual happening. 

The open book lay flat between us, with the picture staring repulsively upward. As the old man 
whispered the words "more the same" a tiny spattering impact was heard, and something 
shewed on the yellowed paper of the upturned volume. I thought of the rain and of a leaky 
roof, but rain is not red. On the butcher's shop of the Anzique cannibals a small red spattering 
glistened picturesquely, lending vividness to the horror of the engraving. The old man saw it, 
and stopped whispering even before my expression of horror made it necessary; saw it and 
glanced quickly toward the floor of the room he had left an hour before. I followed his glance, 
and beheld just above us on the loose plaster of the ancient ceiling a large irregular spot of 
wet crimson which seemed to spread even as I viewed it. I did not shriek or move, but merely 
shut my eyes. A moment later came the titanic thunderbolt of thunderbolts; blasting that 
accursed house of unutterable secrets and bringing the oblivion which alone saved my mind. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Ex Oblivione 


When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to 
madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their 
victim's body, ! loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I 
had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods. 

Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and 
languorously under strange stars. 

Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I 
reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses. 

And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended 
in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze. 

Many times I walked through that valley, and longer and longer would I pause in the spectral 
half-light where the giant trees squirmed and twisted grotesquely, and the grey ground 
stretched damply from trunk to trunk, sometimes disclosing the mould-stained stones of 
buried temples. And always the goal of my fancies was the mighty vine-grown wall with the 
little gate of bronze therein. 

After a while, as the days of waking became less and less bearable from their greyness and 
sameness, I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves, and 
wonder how I might seize them for my eternal dwelling-place, so that I need no more crawl 
back to a dull world stript of interest and new colours. And as I looked upon the little gate in 
the mighty wall, I felt that beyond it lay a dream-country from which, once it was entered, 
there would be no return. 

So each night in sleep I strove to find the hidden latch of the gate in the ivied antique wall, 
though it was exceedingly well hidden. And I would tell myself that the realm beyond the wall 
was not more lasting merely, but more lovely and radiant as well. 

Then one night in the dream-city of Zakarion I found a yellowed papyrus filled with the 
thoughts of dream-sages who dwelt of old in that city, and who were too wise ever to be born 
in the waking world. Therein were written many things concerning the world of dream, and 
among them was lore of a golden valley and a sacred grove with temples, and a high wall 
pierced by a little bronze gate. When I saw this lore, I knew that it touched on the scenes I 
had haunted, and I therefore read long in the yellowed papyrus. 

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but 
others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and 
more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and 
no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I 
learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it 
when next I awaked. 

Last night I swallowed the drug and floated dreamily into the golden valley and the shadowy 
groves; and when I came this time to the antique wall, I saw that the small gate of bronze was 
ajar. From beyond came a glow that weirdly lit the giant twisted trees and the tops of the 
buried temples, and I drifted on songfully, expectant of the glories of the land from whence I 
should never return. 

But as the gate swung wider and the sorcery of drug and dream pushed me through, I knew 
that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but 
only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. So, happier than I had ever dared 
hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the 
daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Nameless City 


When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was travelling in a parched and 
terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts 
of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave. Fear spoke from the age-worn stones of this 
hoary survivor of the deluge, this great-grandmother of the eldest pyramid; and a viewless 
aura repelled me and bade me retreat from antique and sinister secrets that no man should 
see, and no man else had ever dared to see. 

Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and inarticulate, its low walls 
nearly hidden by the sands of uncounted ages. It must have been thus before the first stones 
of Memphis were laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked. There is no legend 
so old as to give it a name, or to recall that it was ever alive; but it is told of in whispers 
around campfires and muttered about by grandams in the tents of sheiks, so that all the tribes 
shun it without wholly knowing why. It was of this place that Abdul Alhazred the mad poet 
dreamed on the night before he sang his unexplainable couplet: 

"That is not dead which can eternal lie. 
And with strange aeons even death may die." 

I should have known that the Arabs had good reason for shunning the nameless city, the city 
told of in strange tales but seen by no living man, yet I defied them and went into the 
untrodden waste with my camel. I alone have seen it, and that is why no other face bears 
such hideous lines of fear as mine; why no other man shivers so horribly when the night-wind 
rattles the windows. When I came upon it in the ghastly stillness of unending sleep it looked at 
me, chilly from the rays of a cold moon amidst the desert's heat. And as I returned its look I 
forgot my triumph at finding it, and stopped still with my camel to wait for the dawn. 

For hours I waited, till the east grew grey and the stars faded, and the grey turned to roseal 
light edged with gold. I heard a moaning and saw a storm of sand stirring among the antique 
stones though the sky was clear and the vast reaches of the desert still. Then suddenly above 
the desert's far rim came the blazing edge of the sun, seen through the tiny sandstorm which 
was passing away, and in my fevered state I fancied that from some remote depth there came 
a crash of musical metal to hail the fiery disc as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile. 
My ears rang and my imagination seethed as I led my camel slowly across the sand to that 
unvocal stone place; that place too old for Egypt and Meroe to remember; that place which I 
alone of living men had seen. 

In and out amongst the shapeless foundations of houses and palaces I wandered, finding 
never a carving or inscription to tell of those men, if men they were, who built the city and 
dwelt therein so long ago. The antiquity of the spot was unwholesome, and I longed to 
encounter some sign or device to prove that the city was indeed fashioned by mankind. There 
were certain proportions and dimensions in the ruins which I did not like. I had with me many 
tools, and dug much within the walls of the obliterated edifices; but progress was slow, and 
nothing significant was revealed. When night and the moon returned I felt a chill wind which 
brought new fear, so that I did not dare to remain in the city. And as I went outside the antique 
walls to sleep, a small sighing sandstorm gathered behind me, blowing over the grey stones 
though the moon was bright and most of the desert still. 

I awaked just at dawn from a pageant of horrible dreams, my ears ringing as from some 
metallic peal. I saw the sun peering redly through the last gusts of a little sandstorm that 
hovered over the nameless city, and marked the quietness of the rest of the landscape. Once 
more I ventured within those brooding ruins that swelled beneath the sand like an ogre under 
a coverlet, and again dug vainly for relics of the forgotten race. At noon I rested, and in the 
afternoon I spent much time tracing the walls, and the bygone streets, and the outlines of the 
nearly vanished buildings. I saw that the city had been mighty indeed, and wondered at the 
sources of its greatness. To myself I pictured all the splendours of an age so distant that 
Chaldaea could not recall it, and thought of Sarnath the Doomed, that stood in the land of 
Mnar when mankind was young, and of lb, that was carven of grey stone before mankind 

All at once I came upon a place where the bed-rock rose stark through the sand and formed a 
low cliff; and here I saw with joy what seemed to promise further traces of the antediluvian 
people. Hewn rudely on the face of the cliff were the unmistakable facades of several small, 
squat rock houses or temples; whose interiors might preserve many secrets of ages too 
remote for calculation, though sandstorms had long since effaced any carvings which may 
have been outside. 

Very low and sand-choked were all of the dark apertures near me, but I cleared one with my 
spade and crawled through it, carrying a torch to reveal whatever mysteries it might hold. 
When I was inside I saw that the cavern was indeed a temple, and beheld plain signs of the 
race that had lived and worshipped before the desert was a desert. Primitive altars, pillars, 
and niches, all curiously low, were not absent; and though I saw no sculptures nor frescoes, 
there were many singular stones clearly shaped into symbols by artificial means. The lowness 
of the chiselled chamber was very strange, for I could hardly more than kneel upright; but the 
area was so great that my torch shewed only part at a time. I shuddered oddly in some of the 
far corners; for certain altars and stones suggested forgotten rites of terrible, revolting, and 
inexplicable nature, and made me wonder what manner of men could have made and 
frequented such a temple. When I had seen all that the place contained, I crawled out again, 
avid to find what the other temples might yield. 

Night had now approached, yet the tangible things I had seen made curiosity stronger than 
fear, so that I did not flee from the long moon-cast shadows that had daunted me when first I 
saw the nameless city. In the twilight I cleared another aperture and with a new torch crawled 
into it, finding more vague stones and symbols, though nothing more definite than the other 
temple had contained. The room was just as low, but much less broad, ending in a very 
narrow passage crowded with obscure and cryptical shrines. About these shrines I was prying 
when the noise of a wind and of my camel outside broke through the stillness and drew me 
forth to see what could have frightened the beast. 

The moon was gleaming vividly over the primeval ruins, lighting a dense cloud of sand that 
seemed blown by a strong but decreasing wind from some point along the cliff ahead of me. I 
knew it was this chilly, sandy wind which had disturbed the camel, and was about to lead him 
to a place of better shelter when I chanced to glance up and saw that there was no wind atop 
the cliff. This astonished me and made me fearful again, but I immediately recalled the 
sudden local winds I had seen and heard before at sunrise and sunset, and judged it was a 
normal thing. I decided that it came from some rock fissure leading to a cave, and watched 
the troubled sand to trace it to its source; soon perceiving that it came from the black orifice of 
a temple a long distance south of me, almost out of sight. Against the choking sand-cloud I 
plodded toward this temple, which as I neared it loomed larger than the rest, and shewed a 

doorway far less clogged with caked sand. I would have entered had not the terrific force of 
the Icy wind almost quenched my torch. It poured madly out of the dark door, sighing 
uncannily as it ruffled the sand and spread about the weird ruins. Soon it grew fainter and the 
sand grew more and more still, till finally all was at rest again; but a presence seemed stalking 
among the spectral stones of the city, and when I glanced at the moon it seemed to quiver as 
though mirrored in unquiet waters. I was more afraid than I could explain, but not enough to 
dull my thirst for wonder; so as soon as the wind was quite gone I crossed into the dark 
chamber from which it had come. 

This temple, as I had fancied from the outside, was larger than either of those I had visited 
before; and was presumably a natural cavern, since it bore winds from some region beyond. 
Here I could stand quite upright, but saw that the stones and altars were as low as those in 
the other temples. On the walls and roof I beheld for the first time some traces of the pictorial 
art of the ancient race, curious curling streaks of paint that had almost faded or crumbled 
away; and on two of the altars I saw with rising excitement a maze of well-fashioned 
curvilinear carvings. As I held my torch aloft it seemed to me that the shape of the roof was 
too regular to be natural, and I wondered what the prehistoric cutters of stone had first worked 
upon. Their engineering skill must have been vast. 

Then a brighter flare of the fantastic flame shewed me that for which I had been seeking, the 
opening to those remoter abysses whence the sudden wind had blown; and I grew faint when 
I saw that it was a small and plainly artificial door chiselled in the solid rock. I thrust my torch 
within, beholding a black tunnel with the roof arching low over a rough flight of very small, 
numerous, and steeply descending steps. I shall always see those steps in my dreams, for I 
came to learn what they meant. At the time I hardly knew whether to call them steps or mere 
foot-holds in a precipitous descent. IVIy mind was whirling with mad thoughts, and the words 
and warnings of Arab prophets seemed to float across the desert from the lands that men 
know to the nameless city that men dare not know. Yet I hesitated only a moment before 
advancing through the portal and commencing to climb cautiously down the steep passage, 
feet first, as though on a ladder. 

It is only in the terrible phantasms of drugs or delirium that any other man can have had such 
a descent as mine. The narrow passage led infinitely down like some hideous haunted well, 
and the torch I held above my head could not light the unknown depths toward which I was 
crawling. I lost track of the hours and forgot to consult my watch, though I was frightened 
when I thought of the distance I must be traversing. There were changes of direction and of 
steepness, and once I came to a long, low, level passage where I had to wriggle feet first 
along the rocky floor, holding my torch at arm's length beyond my head. The place was not 
high enough for kneeling. After that were more of the steep steps, and I was still scrambling 
down interminably when my failing torch died out. I do not think I noticed it at the time, for 
when I did notice it I was still holding it high above me as if it were ablaze. I was quite 
unbalanced with that instinct for the strange and the unknown which has made me a 
wanderer upon earth and a haunter of far, ancient, and forbidden places. 

In the darkness there flashed before my mind fragments of my cherished treasury of 
daemoniac lore; sentences from Alhazred the mad Arab, paragraphs from the apocryphal 
nightmares of Damascius, and infamous lines from the delirious Image du Monde of Gauthier 
de IVIetz. I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated 
with him down the Oxus; later chanting over and over again a phrase from one of Lord 
Dunsany's tales — "the unreverberate blackness of the abyss". Once when the descent grew 

amazingly steep I recited sometliing in sing-song from Tliomas Moore until I feared to recite 

"A reservoir of darkness, black 
As witches' cauldrons are, when fill'd 
With moon-drugs in th' eclipse distill'd. 

Leaning to look if foot might pass 
Down thro' that chasm, I saw, beneath. 
As far as vision could explore. 
The jetty sides as smooth as glass, 

Looking as if just varnish'd o'er 
With that dark pitch the Sea of Death 
Throws out upon its slimy shore." 

Time had quite ceased to exist when my feet again felt a level floor, and I found myself in a 
place slightly higher than the rooms in the two smaller temples now so incalculably far above 
my head. I could not quite stand, but could kneel upright, and in the dark I shuffled and crept 
hither and thither at random. I soon knew that I was in a narrow passage whose walls were 
lined with cases of wood having glass fronts. As In that Palaeozoic and abysmal place I felt of 
such things as polished wood and glass I shuddered at the possible Implications. The cases 
were apparently ranged along each side of the passage at regular intervals, and were oblong 
and horizontal, hideously like coffins in shape and size. When I tried to move two or three for 
further examination, I found they were firmly fastened. 

I saw that the passage was a long one, so floundered ahead rapidly in a creeping run that 
would have seemed horrible had any eye watched me in the blackness; crossing from side to 
side occasionally to feel of my surroundings and be sure the walls and rows of cases still 
stretched on. Man is so used to thinking visually that I almost forgot the darkness and pictured 
the endless corridor of wood and glass in its low-studded monotony as though I saw it. And 
then in a moment of indescribable emotion I did see it. 

Just when my fancy merged into real sight I cannot tell; but there came a gradual glow ahead, 
and all at once I knew that I saw the dim outlines of the corridor and the cases, revealed by 
some unknown subterranean phosphorescence. For a little while all was exactly as I had 
imagined it, since the glow was very faint; but as I mechanically kept on stumbling ahead into 
the stronger light I realised that my fancy had been but feeble. This hall was no relic of crudity 
like the temples in the city above, but a monument of the most magnificent and exotic art. 
Rich, vivid, and daringly fantastic designs and pictures formed a continuous scheme of mural 
painting whose lines and colours were beyond description. The cases were of a strange 
golden wood, with fronts of exquisite glass, and contained the mummified forms of creatures 
outreaching in grotesqueness the most chaotic dreams of man. 

To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible. They were of the reptile kind, with 
body lines suggesting sometimes the crocodile, sometimes the seal, but more often nothing of 
which either the naturalist or the palaeontologist ever heard. In size they approximated a 
small man, and their fore legs bore delicate and evidently flexible feet curiously like human 
hands and fingers. But strangest of all were their heads, which presented a contour violating 
all known biological principles. To nothing can such things be well compared — in one flash I 
thought of comparisons as varied as the cat, the bulldog, the mythic Satyr, and the human 
being. Not Jove himself had so colossal and protuberant a forehead, yet the horns and the 
noselessness and the alligator-like jaw placed the things outside all established categories. I 
debated for a time on the reality of the mummies, half suspecting they were artificial idols; but 

soon decided they were indeed some palaeogean species wliicli liad lived wlien tlie 
nameless city was alive. To crown their grotesqueness, most of them were gorgeously 
enrobed in the costliest of fabrics, and lavishly laden with ornaments of gold, jewels, and 
unknown shining metals. 

The importance of these crawling creatures must have been vast, for they held first place 
among the wild designs on the frescoed walls and ceiling. With matchless skill had the artist 
drawn them in a world of their own, wherein they had cities and gardens fashioned to suit 
their dimensions; and I could not but think that their pictured history was allegorical, perhaps 
shewing the progress of the race that worshipped them. These creatures, I said to myself, 
were to the men of the nameless city what the she-wolf was to Rome, or some totem-beast is 
to a tribe of Indians. 

Holding this view, I thought I could trace roughly a wonderful epic of the nameless city; the 
tale of a mighty sea-coast metropolis that ruled the world before Africa rose out of the waves, 
and of its struggles as the sea shrank away, and the desert crept into the fertile valley that 
held it. I saw its wars and triumphs, its troubles and defeats, and aftenward its terrible fight 
against the desert when thousands of its people — here represented in allegory by the 
grotesque reptiles — were driven to chisel their way down through the rocks in some 
marvellous manner to another world whereof their prophets had told them. It was all vividly 
weird and realistic, and its connexion with the awesome descent I had made was 
unmistakable. I even recognised the passages. 

As I crept along the corridor toward the brighter light I saw later stages of the painted epic — 
the leave-taking of the race that had dwelt in the nameless city and the valley around for ten 
million years; the race whose souls shrank from quitting scenes their bodies had known so 
long, where they had settled as nomads in the earth's youth, hewing in the virgin rock those 
primal shrines at which they never ceased to worship. Now that the light was better I studied 
the pictures more closely, and, remembering that the strange reptiles must represent the 
unknown men, pondered upon the customs of the nameless city. IVIany things were peculiar 
and inexplicable. The civilisation, which included a written alphabet, had seemingly risen to a 
higher order than those immeasurably later civilisations of Egypt and Chaldaea, yet there 
were curious omissions. I could, for example, find no pictures to represent deaths or funeral 
customs, save such as were related to wars, violence, and plagues; and I wondered at the 
reticence shewn concerning natural death. It was as though an ideal of earthly immortality 
had been fostered as a cheering illusion. 

Still nearer the end of the passage were painted scenes of the utmost picturesqueness and 
extravagance; contrasted views of the nameless city in its desertion and growing ruin, and of 
the strange new realm or paradise to which the race had hewed its way through the stone. In 
these views the city and the desert valley were shewn always by moonlight, a golden nimbus 
hovering over the fallen walls and half revealing the splendid perfection of former times, 
shewn spectrally and elusively by the artist. The paradisal scenes were almost too 
extravagant to be believed; portraying a hidden world of eternal day filled with glorious cities 
and ethereal hills and valleys. At the very last I thought I saw signs of an artistic anti-climax. 
The paintings were less skilful, and much more bizarre than even the wildest of the earlier 
scenes. They seemed to record a slow decadence of the ancient stock, coupled with a 
growing ferocity toward the outside world from which it was driven by the desert. The forms of 
the people — always represented by the sacred reptiles — appeared to be gradually wasting 
away, though their spirit as shewn hovering about the ruins by moonlight gained in proportion. 
Emaciated priests, displayed as reptiles in ornate robes, cursed the upper air and all who 

breathed it; and one terrible final scene shewed a primitive-looking man, perhaps a pioneer of 
ancient Irem, the City of Pillars, torn to pieces by members of the elder race. I remembered 
how the Arabs fear the nameless city, and was glad that beyond this place the grey walls and 
ceiling were bare. 

As I viewed the pageant of mural history I had approached very closely the end of the low- 
ceiled hall, and was aware of a great gate through which came all of the illuminating 
phosphorescence. Creeping up to it, I cried aloud In transcendent amazement at what lay 
beyond; for Instead of other and brighter chambers there was only an Illimitable void of 
uniform radiance, such as one might fancy when gazing down from the peak of Mount 
Everest upon a sea of sunlit mist. Behind me was a passage so cramped that I could not 
stand upright in it; before me was an infinity of subterranean effulgence. 

Reaching down from the passage into the abyss was the head of a steep flight of steps — 
small numerous steps like those of the black passages I had traversed — but after a few feet 
the glowing vapours concealed everything. Swung back open against the left-hand wall of the 
passage was a massive door of brass, incredibly thick and decorated with fantastic bas- 
reliefs, which could if closed shut the whole inner world of light away from the vaults and 
passages of rock. I looked at the steps, and for the nonce dared not try them. I touched the 
open brass door, and could not move It. Then I sank prone to the stone floor, my mind aflame 
with prodigious reflections which not even a death-like exhaustion could banish. 

As I lay still with closed eyes, free to ponder, many things I had lightly noted In the frescoes 
came back to me with new and terrible significance — scenes representing the nameless city 
in its heyday, the vegetation of the valley around it, and the distant lands with which its 
merchants traded. The allegory of the crawling creatures puzzled me by its universal 
prominence, and I wondered that it should be so closely followed in a pictured history of such 
importance. In the frescoes the nameless city had been shewn in proportions fitted to the 
reptiles. I wondered what its real proportions and magnificence had been, and reflected a 
moment on certain oddities I had noticed in the ruins. I thought curiously of the lowness of the 
primal temples and of the underground corridor, which were doubtless hewn thus out of 
deference to the reptile deities there honoured; though It perforce reduced the worshippers to 
crawling. Perhaps the very rites had involved a crawling in imitation of the creatures. No 
religious theory, however, could easily explain why the level passage in that awesome 
descent should be as low as the temples — or lower, since one could not even kneel In It. As I 
thought of the crawling creatures, whose hideous mummified forms were so close to me, I felt 
a new throb of fear. Mental associations are curious, and I shrank from the idea that except 
for the poor primitive man torn to pieces in the last painting, mine was the only human form 
amidst the many relics and symbols of primordial life. 

But as always in my strange and roving existence, wonder soon drove out fear; for the 
luminous abyss and what it might contain presented a problem worthy of the greatest 
explorer. That a weird world of mystery lay far down that flight of peculiarly small steps I could 
not doubt, and I hoped to find there those human memorials which the painted corridor had 
failed to give. The frescoes had pictured unbelievable cities, hills, and valleys in this lower 
realm, and my fancy dwelt on the rich and colossal ruins that awaited me. 

My fears, indeed, concerned the past rather than the future. Not even the physical horror of 
my position in that cramped corridor of dead reptiles and antediluvian frescoes, miles below 
the world I knew and faced by another world of eerie light and mist, could match the lethal 
dread I felt at the abysmal antiquity of the scene and its soul. An ancientness so vast that 
measurement is feeble seemed to leer down from the primal stones and rock-hewn temples in 

the nameless city, while the very latest of the astounding maps in the frescoes shewed 
oceans and continents that man has forgotten, with only here and there some vaguely familiar 
outline. Of what could have happened in the geological aeons since the paintings ceased and 
the death-hating race resentfully succumbed to decay, no man might say. Life had once 
teemed in these caverns and in the luminous realm beyond; now I was alone with vivid relics, 
and I trembled to think of the countless ages through which these relics had kept a silent and 
deserted vigil. 

Suddenly there came another burst of that acute fear which had intermittently seized me ever 
since I first saw the terrible valley and the nameless city under a cold moon, and despite my 
exhaustion I found myself starting frantically to a sitting posture and gazing back along the 
black corridor toward the tunnels that rose to the outer world. My sensations were much like 
those which had made me shun the nameless city at night, and were as inexplicable as they 
were poignant. In another moment, however, I received a still greater shock in the form of a 
definite sound — the first which had broken the utter silence of these tomb-like depths. It was a 
deep, low moaning, as of a distant throng of condemned spirits, and came from the direction 
in which I was staring. Its volume rapidly grew, till soon it reverberated frightfully through the 
low passage, and at the same time I became conscious of an increasing draught of cold air, 
likewise flowing from the tunnels and the city above. The touch of this air seemed to restore 
my balance, for I instantly recalled the sudden gusts which had risen around the mouth of the 
abyss each sunset and sunrise, one of which had indeed served to reveal the hidden tunnels 
to me. I looked at my watch and saw that sunrise was near, so braced myself to resist the 
gale which was sweeping down to its cavern home as it had swept forth at evening. My fear 
again waned low, since a natural phenomenon tends to dispel breedings over the unknown. 

More and more madly poured the shrieking, moaning night-wind into that gulf of the inner 
earth. I dropped prone again and clutched vainly at the floor for fear of being swept bodily 
through the open gate into the phosphorescent abyss. Such fury I had not expected, and as I 
grew aware of an actual slipping of my form toward the abyss I was beset by a thousand new 
terrors of apprehension and imagination. The malignancy of the blast awakened incredible 
fancies; once more I compared myself shudderingly to the only other human image in that 
frightful corridor, the man who was torn to pieces by the nameless race, for in the fiendish 
clawing of the swirling currents there seemed to abide a vindictive rage all the stronger 
because it was largely impotent. I think I screamed frantically near the last — I was almost 
mad — but if I did so my cries were lost in the hell-born babel of the howling wind-wraiths. I 
tried to crawl against the murderous invisible torrent, but I could not even hold my own as I 
was pushed slowly and inexorably toward the unknown world. Finally reason must have 
wholly snapped, for I fell to babbling over and over that unexplainable couplet of the mad Arab 
Alhazred, who dreamed of the nameless city: 

"That is not dead which can eternal lie. 
And with strange aeons even death may die." 

Only the grim brooding desert gods know what really took place — what indescribable 
struggles and scrambles in the dark I endured or what Abaddon guided me back to life, where 
I must always remember and shiver in the night-wind till oblivion — or worse — claims me. 
Monstrous, unnatural, colossal, was the thing — too far beyond all the ideas of man to be 
believed except in the silent damnable small hours when one cannot sleep. 

I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal — cacodaemoniacal — and that its 
voices were hideous with the pent-up viciousness of desolate eternities. Presently those 
voices, while still chaotic before me, seemed to my beating brain to take articulate form 

behind me; and down there in the grave of unnumbered aeon-dead antiquities, leagues below 
the dawn-lit world of men, I heard the ghastly cursing and snarling of strange-tongued fiends. 
Turning, I saw outlined against the luminous aether of the abyss what could not be seen 
against the dusk of the corridor — a nightmare horde of rushing devils; hate-distorted, 
grotesquely panoplied, half-transparent; devils of a race no man might mistake — the crawling 
reptiles of the nameless city. 

And as the wind died away I was plunged into the ghoul-peopled blackness of earth's bowels; 
for behind the last of the creatures the great brazen door clanged shut with a deafening peal 
of metallic music whose reverberations swelled out to the distant world to hail the rising sun 
as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Quest of Iranon 


Into the granite city of Teloth wandered the youth, vine-crowned, his yellow hair glistening with 
myrrh and his purple robe torn with briers of the mountain Sidrak that lies across the antique 
bridge of stone. The men of Teloth are dark and stern, and dwell in square houses, and with 
frowns they asked the stranger whence he had come and what were his name and fortune. 
So the youth answered: 

"I am Iranon, and come from Aira, a far city that I recall only dimly but seek to find again. I am 
a singer of songs that I learned in the far city, and my calling is to make beauty with the things 
remembered of childhood. My wealth is in little memories and dreams, and in hopes that I 
sing in gardens when the moon is tender and the west wind stirs the lotos-buds." 

When the men of Teloth heard these things they whispered to one another; for though in the 
granite city there is no laughter or song, the stern men sometimes look to the Karthian hills in 
the spring and think of the lutes of distant Oonai whereof travellers have told. And thinking 
thus, they bade the stranger stay and sing in the square before the Tower of Mlin, though they 
liked not the colour of his tattered robe, nor the myrrh in his hair, nor his chaplet of vine- 
leaves, nor the youth in his golden voice. At evening Iranon sang, and while he sang an old 
man prayed and a blind man said he saw a nimbus over the singer's head. But most of the 
men of Teloth yawned, and some laughed and some went away to sleep; for Iranon told 
nothing useful, singing only his memories, his dreams, and his hopes. 

"I remember the twilight, the moon, and soft songs, and the window where I was rocked to 
sleep. And through the window was the street where the golden lights came, and where the 
shadows danced on houses of marble. I remember the square of moonlight on the floor, that 
was not like any other light, and the visions that danced in the moonbeams when my mother 
sang to me. And too, I remember the sun of morning bright above the many-coloured hills in 
summer, and the sweetness of flowers borne on the south wind that made the trees sing. 

"O Aira, city of marble and beryl, how many are thy beauties! How loved I the warm and 
fragrant groves across the hyaline Nithra, and the falls of the tiny Kra that flowed through the 
verdant valley! In those groves and in that vale the children wove wreaths for one another, 
and at dusk I dreamed strange dreams under the yath-trees on the mountain as I saw below 
me the lights of the city, and the curving Nithra reflecting a ribbon of stars. 

"And in the city were palaces of veined and tinted marble, with golden domes and painted 
walls, and green gardens with cerulean pools and crystal fountains. Often I played in the 
gardens and waded in the pools, and lay and dreamed among the pale flowers under the 
trees. And sometimes at sunset I would climb the long hilly street to the citadel and the open 
place, and look down upon Aira, the magic city of marble and beryl, splendid in a robe of 
golden flame. 

"Long have I missed thee, Aira, for I was but young when we went into exile; but my father 
was thy King and I shall come again to thee, for it is so decreed of Fate. All through seven 
lands have I sought thee, and some day shall I reign over thy groves and gardens, thy streets 
and palaces, and sing to men who shall know whereof I sing, and laugh not nor turn away. For 
I am Iranon, who was a Prince in Aira." 

That night the men of Teloth lodged the stranger in a stable, and in the morning an archon 
came to him and told him to go to the shop of Athok the cobbler, and be apprenticed to him. 

"But I am Iranon, a singer of songs," he said, "and have no heart for the cobbler's trade." 

"All in Teloth must toil," replied the archon, "for that is the law." Then said Iranon, 

"Wherefore do ye toil; is it not that ye may live and be happy? And if ye toil only that ye may 
toil more, when shall happiness find you? Ye toil to live, but is not life made of beauty and 
song? And if ye suffer no singers among you, where shall be the fruits of your toil? Toil without 
song is like a weary journey without an end. Were not death more pleasing?" But the archon 
was sullen and did not understand, and rebuked the stranger. 

"Thou art a strange youth, and I like not thy face nor thy voice. The words thou speakest are 
blasphemy, for the gods of Teloth have said that toil is good. Our gods have promised us a 
haven of light beyond death, where there shall be rest without end, and crystal coldness 
amidst which none shall vex his mind with thought or his eyes with beauty. Go thou then to 
Athok the cobbler or be gone out of the city by sunset. All here must serve, and song is folly." 

So Iranon went out of the stable and walked over the narrow stone streets between the 
gloomy square houses of granite, seeking something green in the air of spring. But in Teloth 
was nothing green, for all was of stone. On the faces of men were frowns, but by the stone 
embankment along the sluggish river Zuro sate a young boy with sad eyes gazing into the 
waters to spy green budding branches washed down from the hills by the freshets. And the 
boy said to him: 

"Art thou not indeed he of whom the archons tell, who seekest a far city in a fair land? I am 
Romnod, and born of the blood of Teloth, but am not old in the ways of the granite city, and 
yearn daily for the warm groves and the distant lands of beauty and song. Beyond the 
Karthian hills lieth Oonai, the city of lutes and dancing, which men whisper of and say is both 
lovely and terrible. Thither would I go were I old enough to find the way, and thither shouldst 
thou go an thou wouldst sing and have men listen to thee. Let us leave the city Teloth and 
fare together among the hills of spring. Thou shalt shew me the ways of travel and I will 
attend thy songs at evening when the stars one by one bring dreams to the minds of 
dreamers. And peradventure it may be that Oonai the city of lutes and dancing is even the fair 
Aira thou seekest, for it is told that thou hast not known Aira since old days, and a name often 
changeth. Let us go to Oonai, O Iranon of the golden head, where men shall know our 
longings and welcome us as brothers, nor ever laugh or frown at what we say." And Iranon 

"Be it so, small one; if any in this stone place yearn for beauty he must seek the mountains 
and beyond, and I would not leave thee to pine by the sluggish Zuro. But think not that delight 
and understanding dwell just across the Karthian hills, or in any spot thou canst find in a 
day's, or a year's, or a lustrum's journey. Behold, when I was small like thee I dwelt in the 
valley of Narthos by the frigid Xari, where none would listen to my dreams; and I told myself 
that when older I would go to Sinara on the southern slope, and sing to smiling dromedary- 
men in the market-place. But when I went to Sinara I found the dromedary-men all drunken 
and ribald, and saw that their songs were not as mine, so I travelled in a barge down the Xari 
to onyx-walled Jaren. And the soldiers at Jaren laughed at me and drave me out, so that I 
wandered to many other cities. I have seen Stethelos that is below the great cataract, and 
have gazed on the marsh where Sarnath once stood. I have been to Thraa, llarnek, and 
Kadatheron on the winding river Ai, and have dwelt long in Olathoe in the land of Lomar. But 
though I have had listeners sometimes, they have ever been few, and I know that welcome 

shall await me only in Aira, the city of marble and beryl where my father once ruled as King. 

So for Aira shall we seek, though it were well to visit distant and lute-blessed Oonai across 
the Karthian hills, which may indeed be Aira, though I think not. Aira's beauty is past 
imagining, and none can tell of it without rapture, whilst of Oonai the camel-drivers whisper 

At the sunset Iranon and small Romnod went forth from Teloth, and for long wandered amidst 
the green hills and cool forests. The way was rough and obscure, and never did they seem 
nearer to Oonai the city of lutes and dancing; but in the dusk as the stars came out Iranon 
would sing of Aira and its beauties and Romnod would listen, so that they were both happy 
after a fashion. They ate plentifully of fruit and red berries, and marked not the passing of 
time, but many years must have slipped away. Small Romnod was now not so small, and 
spoke deeply instead of shrilly, though Iranon was always the same, and decked his golden 
hair with vines and fragrant resins found in the woods. So it came to pass one day that 
Romnod seemed older than Iranon, though he had been very small when Iranon had found 
him watching for green budding branches in Teloth beside the sluggish stone-banked Zuro. 

Then one night when the moon was full the travellers came to a mountain crest and looked 
down upon the myriad lights of Oonai. Peasants had told them they were near, and Iranon 
knew that this was not his native city of Aira. The lights of Oonai were not like those of Aira; 
for they were harsh and glaring, while the lights of Aira shine as softly and magically as shone 
the moonlight on the floor by the window where Iranon's mother once rocked him to sleep 
with song. But Oonai was a city of lutes and dancing, so Iranon and Romnod went down the 
steep slope that they might find men to whom songs and dreams would bring pleasure. And 
when they were come into the town they found rose-wreathed revellers bound from house to 
house and leaning from windows and balconies, who listened to the songs of Iranon and 
tossed him flowers and applauded when he was done. Then for a moment did Iranon believe 
he had found those who thought and felt even as he, though the town was not an hundredth 
as fair as Aira. 

When dawn came Iranon looked about with dismay, for the domes of Oonai were not golden 
in the sun, but grey and dismal. And the men of Oonai were pale with revelling and dull with 
wine, and unlike the radiant men of Aira. But because the people had thrown him blossoms 
and acclaimed his songs Iranon stayed on, and with him Romnod, who liked the revelry of the 
town and wore in his dark hair roses and myrtle. Often at night Iranon sang to the revellers, 
but he was always as before, crowned only with the vine of the mountains and remembering 
the marble streets of Aira and the hyaline Nithra. In the frescoed halls of the Monarch did he 
sing, upon a crystal dais raised over a floor that was a mirror, and as he sang he brought 
pictures to his hearers till the floor seemed to reflect old, beautiful, and half-remembered 
things instead of the wine-reddened feasters who pelted him with roses. And the King bade 
him put away his tattered purple, and clothed him in satin and cloth-of-gold, with rings of 
green jade and bracelets of tinted ivory, and lodged him in a gilded and tapestried chamber on 
a bed of sweet carven wood with canopies and coverlets of flower-embroidered silk. Thus 
dwelt Iranon in Oonai, the city of lutes and dancing. 

It is not known how long Iranon tarried in Oonai, but one day the King brought to the palace 
some wild whirling dancers from the Liranian desert, and dusky flute-players from Drinen in 
the East, and after that the revellers threw their roses not so much at Iranon as at the dancers 
and the flute-players. And day by day that Romnod who had been a small boy in granite 
Teloth grew coarser and redder with wine, till he dreamed less and less, and listened with less 
delight to the songs of Iranon. But though Iranon was sad he ceased not to sing, and at 

evening told again liis dreams of Aira, tine city of marble and beryl. Then one night the red and 
fattened Romnod snorted heavily amidst the poppied silks of his banquet-couch and died 
writhing, whilst Iranon, pale and slender, sang to himself in a far corner. And when Iranon had 
wept over the grave of Romnod and strown it with green budding branches, such as Romnod 
used to love, he put aside his silks and gauds and went forgotten out of Oonai the city of lutes 
and dancing clad only in the ragged purple in which he had come, and garlanded with fresh 
vines from the mountains. 

Into the sunset wandered Iranon, seeking still for his native land and for men who would 
understand and cherish his songs and dreams. In all the cities of Cydathria and in the lands 
beyond the Bnazic desert gay-faced children laughed at his olden songs and tattered robe of 
purple; but Iranon stayed ever young, and wore wreaths upon his golden head whilst he sang 
of Aira, delight of the past and hope of the future. 

So came he one night to the squalid cot of an antique shepherd, bent and dirty, who kept lean 
flocks on a stony slope above a quicksand marsh. To this man Iranon spoke, as to so many 

"Canst thou tell me where I may find Aira, the city of marble and beryl, where flows the hyaline 
Nithra and where the falls of the tiny Kra sing to verdant valleys and hills forested with yath 
trees?" And the shepherd, hearing, looked long and strangely at Iranon, as if recalling 
something very far away in time, and noted each line of the stranger's face, and his golden 
hair, and his crown of vine-leaves. But he was old, and shook his head as he replied: 

"O stranger, I have indeed heard the name of Aira, and the other names thou hast spoken, but 
they come to me from afar down the waste of long years. I heard them in my youth from the 
lips of a playmate, a beggar's boy given to strange dreams, who would weave long tales 
about the moon and the flowers and the west wind. We used to laugh at him, for we knew him 
from his birth though he thought himself a King's son. He was comely, even as thou, but full of 
folly and strangeness; and he ran away when small to find those who would listen gladly to 
his songs and dreams. How often hath he sung to me of lands that never were, and things 
that never can be! Of Aira did he speak much; of Aira and the river Nithra, and the falls of the 
tiny Kra. There would he ever say he once dwelt as a Prince, though here we knew him from 
his birth. Nor was there ever a marble city of Aira, nor those who could delight in strange 
songs, save in the dreams of mine old playmate Iranon who is gone." 

And in the twilight, as the stars came out one by one and the moon cast on the marsh a 
radiance like that which a child sees quivering on the floor as he is rocked to sleep at evening, 
there walked into the lethal quicksands a very old man in tattered purple, crowned with 
withered vine-leaves and gazing ahead as if upon the golden domes of a fair city where 
dreams are understood. That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Moon-Bog 


Somewhere, to what remote and fearsome region I know not, Denys Barry has gone. I was 
with him the last night he lived among men, and heard his screams when the thing came to 
him; but all the peasants and police in County Meath could never find him, or the others, 
though they searched long and far. And now I shudder when I hear the frogs piping in 
swamps, or see the moon in lonely places. 

I had known Denys Barry well in America, where he had grown rich, and had congratulated 
him when he bought back the old castle by the bog at sleepy Kilderry. It was from Kilderry that 
his father had come, and it was there that he wished to enjoy his wealth among ancestral 
scenes. Men of his blood had once ruled over Kilderry and built and dwelt in the castle, but 
those days were very remote, so that for generations the castle had been empty and 
decaying. After he went to Ireland Barry wrote me often, and told me how under his care the 
grey castle was rising tower by tower to its ancient splendour; how the ivy was climbing slowly 
over the restored walls as it had climbed so many centuries ago, and how the peasants 
blessed him for bringing back the old days with his gold from over the sea. But in time there 
came troubles, and the peasants ceased to bless him, and fled away instead as from a doom. 
And then he sent a letter and asked me to visit him, for he was lonely in the castle with no one 
to speak to save the new servants and labourers he had brought from the north. 

The bog was the cause of all these troubles, as Barry told me the night I came to the castle. I 
had reached Kilderry in the summer sunset, as the gold of the sky lighted the green of the 
hills and groves and the blue of the bog, where on a far islet a strange olden ruin glistened 
spectrally. That sunset was very beautiful, but the peasants at Ballylough had warned me 
against it and said that Kilderry had become accursed, so that I almost shuddered to see the 
high turrets of the castle gilded with fire. Barry's motor had met me at the Ballylough station, 
for Kilderry is off the railway. The villagers had shunned the car and the driver from the north, 
but had whispered to me with pale faces when they saw I was going to Kilderry. And that 
night, after our reunion, Barry told me why. 

The peasants had gone from Kilderry because Denys Barry was to drain the great bog. For all 
his love of Ireland, America had not left him untouched, and he hated the beautiful wasted 
space where peat might be cut and land opened up. The legends and superstitions of Kilderry 
did not move him, and he laughed when the peasants first refused to help, and then cursed 
him and went away to Ballylough with their few belongings as they saw his determination. In 
their place he sent for labourers from the north, and when the servants left he replaced them 
likewise. But it was lonely among strangers, so Barry had asked me to come. 

When I heard the fears which had driven the people from Kilderry I laughed as loudly as my 
friend had laughed, for these fears were of the vaguest, wildest, and most absurd character. 
They had to do with some preposterous legend of the bog, and of a grim guardian spirit that 
dwelt in the strange olden ruin on the far islet I had seen in the sunset. There were tales of 
dancing lights in the dark of the moon, and of chill winds when the night was warm; of wraiths 
in white hovering over the waters, and of an imagined city of stone deep down below the 
swampy surface. But foremost among the weird fancies, and alone in its absolute unanimity, 
was that of the curse awaiting him who should dare to touch or drain the vast reddish morass. 
There were secrets, said the peasants, which must not be uncovered; secrets that had lain 
hidden since the plague came to the children of Partholan in the fabulous years beyond 

history. In the Book of Invaders it is told that these sons of the Greeks were all buried at 
Tallaght, but old men In Kllderry said that one city was overlooked save by its patron moon- 
goddess; so that only the wooded hills buried it when the men of Nemed swept down from 
Scythia in their thirty ships. 

Such were the idle tales which had made the villagers leave Kllderry, and when I heard them I 
did not wonder that Denys Barry had refused to listen. He had, however, a great interest in 
antiquities; and proposed to explore the bog thoroughly when it was drained. The white ruins 
on the islet he had often visited, but though their age was plainly great, and their contour very 
little like that of most ruins in Ireland, they were too dilapidated to tell the days of their glory. 
Now the work of drainage was ready to begin, and the labourers from the north were soon to 
strip the forbidden bog of its green moss and red heather, and kill the tiny shell-paved 
streamlets and quiet blue pools fringed with rushes. 

After Barry had told me these things I was very drowsy, for the travels of the day had been 
wearying and my host had talked late into the night. A manservant shewed me to my room, 
which was in a remote tower overlooking the village, and the plain at the edge of the bog, and 
the bog itself; so that I could see from my windows in the moonlight the silent roofs from 
which the peasants had fled and which now sheltered the labourers from the north, and too, 
the parish church with its antique spire, and far out across the brooding bog the remote olden 
ruin on the islet gleaming white and spectral. Just as I dropped to sleep I fancied I heard faint 
sounds from the distance; sounds that were wild and half musical, and stirred me with a weird 
excitement which coloured my dreams. But when I awaked next morning I felt it had all been 
a dream, for the visions I had seen were more wonderful than any sound of wild pipes in the 
night. Influenced by the legends that Barry had related, my mind had in slumber hovered 
around a stately city in a green valley, where marble streets and statues, villas and temples, 
carvings and inscriptions, all spoke in certain tones the glory that was Greece. When I told 
this dream to Barry we both laughed; but I laughed the louder, because he was perplexed 
about his labourers from the north. For the sixth time they had all overslept, waking very 
slowly and dazedly, and acting as if they had not rested, although they were known to have 
gone early to bed the night before. 

That morning and afternoon I wandered alone through the sun-gilded village and talked now 
and then with idle labourers, for Barry was busy with the final plans for beginning his work of 
drainage. The labourers were not as happy as they might have been, for most of them 
seemed uneasy over some dream which they had had, yet which they tried in vain to 
remember. I told them of my dream, but they were not interested till I spoke of the weird 
sounds I thought I had heard. Then they looked oddly at me, and said that they seemed to 
remember weird sounds, too. 

In the evening Barry dined with me and announced that he would begin the drainage in two 
days. I was glad, for although I disliked to see the moss and the heather and the little streams 
and lakes depart, I had a growing wish to discern the ancient secrets the deep-matted peat 
might hide. And that night my dreams of piping flutes and marble peristyles came to a sudden 
and disquieting end; for upon the city in the valley I saw a pestilence descend, and then a 
frightful avalanche of wooded slopes that covered the dead bodies in the streets and left 
unburied only the temple of Artemis on the high peak, where the aged moon-priestess Cleis 
lay cold and silent witin a crown of ivory on her silver head. 

I have said that I awaked suddenly and in alarm. For some time I could not tell whether I was 
waking or sleeping, for the sound of flutes still rang shrilly in my ears; but when I saw on the 
floor the icy moonbeams and the outlines of a latticed Gothic window I decided I must be 

awake and in the castle at Kilderry. Then I heard a clock from some remote landing below 
strike the hour of two, and I knew I was awake. Yet still there came that monotonous piping 
from afar; wild, weird airs that made me think of some dance of fauns on distant IVIaenalus. It 
would not let me sleep, and in impatience I sprang up and paced the floor. Only by chance did 
I go to the north window and look out upon the silent village and the plain at the edge of the 
bog. I had no wish to gaze abroad, for I wanted to sleep; but the flutes tormented me, and I 
had to do or see something. How could I have suspected the thing I was to behold? 

There in the moonlight that flooded the spacious plain was a spectacle which no mortal, 
having seen it, could ever forget. To the sound of reedy pipes that echoed over the bog there 
glided silently and eerily a mixed throng of swaying figures, reeling through such a revel as 
the Sicilians may have danced to Demeter in the old days under the harvest moon beside the 
Cyane. The wide plain, the golden moonlight, the shadowy moving forms, and above all the 
shrill monotonous piping, produced an effect which almost paralysed me; yet I noted amidst 
my fear that half of these tireless, mechanical dancers were the labourers whom I had thought 
asleep, whilst the other half were strange airy beings in white, half indeterminate in nature, 
but suggesting pale wistful naiads from the haunted fountains of the bog. I do not know how 
long I gazed at this sight from the lonely turret window before I dropped suddenly in a 
dreamless swoon, out of which the high sun of morning aroused me. 

My first impulse on awaking was to communicate all my fears and observations to Denys 
Barry, but as I saw the sunlight glowing through the latticed east window I became sure that 
there was no reality in what I thought I had seen. I am given to strange phantasms, yet am 
never weak enough to believe in them; so on this occasion contented myself with questioning 
the labourers, who slept very late and recalled nothing of the previous night save misty 
dreams of shrill sounds. This matter of the spectral piping harassed me greatly, and I 
wondered if the crickets of autumn had come before their time to vex the night and haunt the 
visions of men. Later in the day I watched Barry in the library poring over his plans for the 
great work which was to begin on the morrow, and for the first time felt a touch of the same 
kind of fear that had driven the peasants away. For some unknown reason I dreaded the 
thought of disturbing the ancient bog and its sunless secrets, and pictured terrible sights lying 
black under the unmeasured depth of age-old peat. That these secrets should be brought to 
light seemed injudicious, and I began to wish for an excuse to leave the castle and the village. 
I went so far as to talk casually to Barry on the subject, but did not dare continue after he 
gave his resounding laugh. So I was silent when the sun set fulgently over the far hills, and 
Kilderry blazed all red and gold in a flame that seemed a portent. 

Whether the events of that night were of reality or illusion I shall never ascertain. Certainly 
they transcend anything we dream of in Nature and the universe; yet in no normal fashion can 
I explain those disappearances which were known to all men after it was over. I retired early 
and full of dread, and for a long time could not sleep in the uncanny silence of the tower. It 
was very dark, for although the sky was clear the moon was now well in the wane, and would 
not rise till the small hours. I thought as I lay there of Denys Barry, and of what would befall 
that bog when the day came, and found myself almost frantic with an impulse to rush out into 
the night, take Barry's car, and drive madly to Ballylough out of the menaced lands. But before 
my fears could crystallise into action I had fallen asleep, and gazed in dreams upon the city in 
the valley, cold and dead under a shroud of hideous shadow. 

Probably it was the shrill piping that awaked me, yet that piping was not what I noticed first 
when I opened my eyes. I was lying with my back to the east window overlooking the bog, 
where the waning moon would rise, and therefore expected to see light cast on the opposite 

wall before me; but I had not looked for such a sight as now appeared. Light indeed glowed 
on the panels ahead, but It was not any light that the moon gives. Terrible and piercing was 
the shaft of ruddy refulgence that streamed through the Gothic window, and the whole 
chamber was brilliant with a splendour intense and unearthly. IVIy immediate actions were 
peculiar for such a situation, but it is only in tales that a man does the dramatic and foreseen 
thing. Instead of looking out across the bog toward the source of the new light, I kept my eyes 
from the window in panic fear, and clumsily drew on my clothing with some dazed idea of 
escape. I remember seizing my revolver and hat, but before it was over I had lost them both 
without firing the one or donning the other. After a time the fascination of the red radiance 
overcame my fright, and I crept to the east window and looked out whilst the maddening, 
incessant piping whined and reverberated through the castle and over all the village. 

Over the bog was a deluge of flaring light, scarlet and sinister, and pouring from the strange 
olden ruin on the far islet. The aspect of that ruin I cannot describe — I must have been mad, 
for it seemed to rise majestic and undecayed, splendid and column-cinctured, the flame- 
reflecting marble of its entablature piercing the sky like the apex of a temple on a mountain- 
top. Flutes shrieked and drums began to beat, and as I watched in awe and terror I thought I 
saw dark saltant forms silhouetted grotesquely against the vision of marble and effulgence. 
The effect was titanic — altogether unthinkable — and I might have stared indefinitely had not 
the sound of the piping seemed to grow stronger at my left. Trembling with a terror oddly 
mixed with ecstasy I crossed the circular room to the north window from which I could see the 
village and the plain at the edge of the bog. There my eyes dilated again with a wild wonder 
as great as if I had not just turned from a scene beyond the pale of Nature, for on the ghastly 
red-litten plain was moving a procession of beings in such a manner as none ever saw before 
save in nightmares. 

Half gliding, half floating in the air, the white-clad bog-wraiths were slowly retreating toward 
the still waters and the island ruin in fantastic formations suggesting some ancient and 
solemn ceremonial dance. Their waving translucent arms, guided by the detestable piping of 
those unseen flutes, beckoned in uncanny rhythm to a throng of lurching labourers who 
followed dog-like with blind, brainless, floundering steps as if dragged by a clumsy but 
resistless daemon-will. As the naiads neared the bog, without altering their course, a new line 
of stumbling stragglers zigzagged drunkenly out of the castle from some door far below my 
window, groped sightlessly across the courtyard and through the intervening bit of village, and 
joined the floundering column of labourers on the plain. Despite their distance below me I at 
once knew they were the servants brought from the north, for I recognised the ugly and 
unwieldy form of the cook, whose very absurdness had now become unutterably tragic. The 
flutes piped horribly, and again I heard the beating of the drums from the direction of the 
island ruin. Then silently and gracefully the naiads reached the water and melted one by one 
into the ancient bog; while the line of followers, never checking their speed, splashed 
awkwardly after them and vanished amidst a tiny vortex of unwholesome bubbles which I 
could barely see in the scarlet light. And as the last pathetic straggler, the fat cook, sank 
heavily out of sight in that sullen pool, the flutes and the drums grew silent, and the blinding 
red rays from the ruins snapped instantaneously out, leaving the village of doom lone and 
desolate in the wan beams of a new-risen moon. 

My condition was now one of indescribable chaos. Not knowing whether I was mad or sane, 
sleeping or waking, I was saved only by a merciful numbness. I believe I did ridiculous things 
such as offering prayers to Artemis, Latona, Demeter, Persephone, and Plouton. All that I 
recalled of a classic youth came to my lips as the horrors of the situation roused my deepest 

superstitions. I felt tliat I liad witnessed tlie deatli of a wliole village, and knew I was alone in 
the castle with Denys Barry, whose boldness had brought down a doom. As I thought of him 
new terrors convulsed me, and I fell to the floor; not fainting, but physically helpless. Then I 
felt the icy blast from the east window where the moon had risen, and began to hear the 
shrieks in the castle far below me. Soon those shrieks had attained a magnitude and quality 
which cannot be written of, and which make me faint as I think of them. All I can say is that 
they came from something I had known as a friend. 

At some time during this shocking period the cold wind and the screaming must have roused 
me, for my next impression is of racing madly through inky rooms and corridors and out 
across the courtyard into the hideous night. They found me at dawn wandering mindless near 
Ballylough, but what unhinged me utterly was not any of the horrors I had seen or heard 
before. What I muttered about as I came slowly out of the shadows was a pair of fantastic 
incidents which occurred in my flight; incidents of no significance, yet which haunt me 
unceasingly when I am alone in certain marshy places or in the moonlight. 

As I fled from that accursed castle along the bog's edge I heard a new sound; common, yet 
unlike any I had heard before at Kilderry. The stagnant waters, lately quite devoid of animal 
life, now teemed with a horde of slimy enormous frogs which piped shrilly and incessantly in 
tones strangely out of keeping with their size. They glistened bloated and green in the 
moonbeams, and seemed to gaze up at the fount of light. I followed the gaze of one very fat 
and ugly frog, and saw the second of the things which drove my senses away. 

Stretching directly from the strange olden ruin on the far islet to the waning moon, my eyes 
seemed to trace a beam of faint quivering radiance having no reflection in the waters of the 
bog. And upward along that pallid path my fevered fancy pictured a thin shadow slowly 
writhing; a vague contorted shadow struggling as if drawn by unseen daemons. Crazed as I 
was, I saw in that awful shadow a monstrous resemblance — a nauseous, unbelievable 
caricature — a blasphemous effigy of him who had been Denys Barry. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Outsider 


That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe; 
And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form 
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm, 
Were long be-nightmared. 

— Keats. 

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is 
he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and 
maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, 
gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot 
the gods gave to me — to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I 
am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind 
momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other. 

I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible; full 
of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and 
shadows. The stones in the crumbling corridors seemed always hideously damp, and there 
was an accursed smell everywhere, as of the piled-up corpses of dead generations. It was 
never light, so that I used sometimes to light candles and gaze steadily at them for relief; nor 
was there any sun outdoors, since the terrible trees grew high above the topmost accessible 
tower. There was one black tower which reached above the trees into the unknown outer sky, 
but that was partly ruined and could not be ascended save by a well-nigh impossible climb up 
the sheer wall, stone by stone. 

I must have lived years in this place, but I cannot measure the time. Beings must have cared 
for my needs, yet I cannot recall any person except myself; or anything alive but the noiseless 
rats and bats and spiders. I think that whoever nursed me must have been shockingly aged, 
since my first conception of a living person was that of something mockingly like myself, yet 
distorted, shrivelled, and decaying like the castle. To me there was nothing grotesque in the 
bones and skeletons that strowed some of the stone crypts deep down among the 
foundations. I fantastically associated these things with every-day events, and thought them 
more natural than the coloured pictures of living beings which I found in many of the mouldy 
books. From such books I learned all that I know. No teacher urged or guided me, and I do 
not recall hearing any human voice in all those years — not even my own; for although I had 
read of speech, I had never thought to try to speak aloud. My aspect was a matter equally 
unthought of, for there were no mirrors in the castle, and I merely regarded myself by instinct 
as akin to the youthful figures I saw drawn and painted in the books. I felt conscious of youth 
because I remembered so little. 

Outside, across the putrid moat and under the dark mute trees, I would often lie and dream for 
hours about what I read in the books; and would longingly picture myself amidst gay crowds 
in the sunny world beyond the endless forest. Once I tried to escape from the forest, but as I 
went farther from the castle the shade grew denser and the air more filled with brooding fear; 
so that I ran frantically back lest I lose my way in a labyrinth of nighted silence. 

So through endless twilights I dreamed and waited, though I knew not what I waited for. Then 
in the shadowy solitude my longing for light grew so frantic that I could rest no more, and I 

lifted entreating liands to tine single black ruined tower that reached above the forest into the 
unknown outer sky. And at last I resolved to scale that tower, fall though I might; since it were 
better to glimpse the sky and perish, than to live without ever beholding day. 

In the dank twilight I climbed the worn and aged stone stairs till I reached the level where they 
ceased, and thereafter clung perilously to small footholds leading upward. Ghastly and terrible 
was that dead, stairless cylinder of rock; black, ruined, and deserted, and sinister with startled 
bats whose wings made no noise. But more ghastly and terrible still was the slowness of my 
progress; for climb as I might, the darkness overhead grew no thinner, and a new chill as of 
haunted and venerable mould assailed me. I shivered as I wondered why I did not reach the 
light, and would have looked down had I dared. I fancied that night had come suddenly upon 
me, and vainly groped with one free hand for a window embrasure, that I might peer out and 
above, and try to judge the height I had attained. 

All at once, after an infinity of awesome, sightless crawling up that concave and desperate 
precipice, I felt my head touch a solid thing, and I knew I must have gained the roof, or at 
least some kind of floor. In the darkness I raised my free hand and tested the barrier, finding it 
stone and immovable. Then came a deadly circuit of the tower, clinging to whatever holds the 
slimy wall could give; till finally my testing hand found the barrier yielding, and I turned upward 
again, pushing the slab or door with my head as I used both hands in my fearful ascent. 
There was no light revealed above, and as my hands went higher I knew that my climb was 
for the nonce ended; since the slab was the trap-door of an aperture leading to a level stone 
surface of greater circumference than the lower tower, no doubt the floor of some lofty and 
capacious observation chamber. I crawled through carefully, and tried to prevent the heavy 
slab from falling back into place; but failed in the latter attempt. As I lay exhausted on the 
stone floor I heard the eerie echoes of its fall, but hoped when necessary to pry it open again. 

Believing I was now at a prodigious height, far above the accursed branches of the wood, I 
dragged myself up from the floor and fumbled about for windows, that I might look for the first 
time upon the sky, and the moon and stars of which I had read. But on every hand I was 
disappointed; since all that I found were vast shelves of marble, bearing odious oblong boxes 
of disturbing size. More and more I reflected, and wondered what hoary secrets might abide 
in this high apartment so many aeons cut off from the castle below. Then unexpectedly my 
hands came upon a doorway, where hung a portal of stone, rough with strange chiselling. 
Trying it, I found it locked; but with a supreme burst of strength I overcame all obstacles and 
dragged it open inward. As I did so there came to me the purest ecstasy I have ever known; 
for shining tranquilly through an ornate grating of iron, and down a short stone passageway of 
steps that ascended from the newly found doorway, was the radiant full moon, which I had 
never before seen save in dreams and in vague visions I dared not call memories. 

Fancying now that I had attained the very pinnacle of the castle, I commenced to rush up the 
few steps beyond the door; but the sudden veiling of the moon by a cloud caused me to 
stumble, and I felt my way more slowly in the dark. It was still very dark when I reached the 
grating — which I tried carefully and found unlocked, but which I did not open for fear of falling 
from the amazing height to which I had climbed. Then the moon came out. 

Most daemoniacal of all shocks is that of the abysmally unexpected and grotesquely 
unbelievable. Nothing I had before undergone could compare in terror with what I now saw; 
with the bizarre marvels that sight implied. The sight itself was as simple as it was stupefying, 
for it was merely this: instead of a dizzying prospect of treetops seen from a lofty eminence, 
there stretched around me on a level through the grating nothing less than the solid ground, 

decked and diversified by marble slabs and columns, and overshadowed by an ancient stone 
church, whose ruined spire gleamed spectrally in the moonlight. 

Half unconscious, I opened the grating and staggered out upon the white gravel path that 
stretched away in two directions. My mind, stunned and chaotic as it was, still held the frantic 
craving for light; and not even the fantastic wonder which had happened could stay my 
course. I neither knew nor cared whether my experience was insanity, dreaming, or magic; 
but was determined to gaze on brilliance and gaiety at any cost. I knew not who I was or what 
I was, or what my surroundings might be; though as I continued to stumble along I became 
conscious of a kind of fearsome latent memory that made my progress not wholly fortuitous. I 
passed under an arch out of that region of slabs and columns, and wandered through the 
open country; sometimes following the visible road, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread 
across meadows where only occasional ruins bespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten 
road. Once I swam across a swift river where crumbling, mossy masonry told of a bridge long 

Over two hours must have passed before I reached what seemed to be my goal, a venerable 
ivied castle in a thickly wooded park; maddeningly familiar, yet full of perplexing strangeness 
to me. I saw that the moat was filled in, and that some of the well-known towers were 
demolished; whilst new wings existed to confuse the beholder. But what I observed with chief 
interest and delight were the open windows — gorgeously ablaze with light and sending forth 
sound of the gayest revelry. Advancing to one of these I looked in and saw an oddly dressed 
company, indeed; making merry, and speaking brightly to one another. I had never, seemingly, 
heard human speech before; and could guess only vaguely what was said. Some of the faces 
seemed to hold expressions that brought up incredibly remote recollections; others were 
utterly alien. 

I now stepped through the low window into the brilliantly lighted room, stepping as I did so 
from my single bright moment of hope to my blackest convulsion of despair and realisation. 
The nightmare was quick to come; for as I entered, there occurred immediately one of the 
most terrifying demonstrations I had ever conceived. Scarcely had I crossed the sill when 
there descended upon the whole company a sudden and unheralded fear of hideous intensity, 
distorting every face and evoking the most horrible screams from nearly every throat. Flight 
was universal, and in the clamour and panic several fell in a swoon and were dragged away 
by their madly fleeing companions. Many covered their eyes with their hands, and plunged 
blindly and awkwardly in their race to escape; overturning furniture and stumbling against the 
walls before they managed to reach one of the many doors. 

The cries were shocking; and as I stood in the brilliant apartment alone and dazed, listening 
to their vanishing echoes, I trembled at the thought of what might be lurking near me unseen. 
At a casual inspection the room seemed deserted, but when I moved toward one of the 
alcoves I thought I detected a presence there — a hint of motion beyond the golden-arched 
doorway leading to another and somewhat similar room. As I approached the arch I began to 
perceive the presence more clearly; and then, with the first and last sound I ever uttered — a 
ghastly ululation that revolted me almost as poignantly as its noxious cause — I beheld in full, 
frightful vividness the inconceivable, indescribable, and unmentionable monstrosity which had 
by its simple appearance changed a merry company to a herd of delirious fugitives. 

I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, 
unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and 
desolation; the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation; the awful baring of that 
which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world — or no longer 

of this world — yet to my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, 
abhorrent travesty on the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an 
unspeakable quality that chilled me even more. 

I was almost paralysed, but not too much so to make a feeble effort toward flight; a backward 
stumble which failed to break the spell in which the nameless, voiceless monster held me. My 
eyes, bewitched by the glassy orbs which stared loathsomely into them, refused to close; 
though they were mercifully blurred, and shewed the terrible object but indistinctly after the 
first shock. I tried to raise my hand to shut out the sight, yet so stunned were my nerves that 
my arm could not fully obey my will. The attempt, however, was enough to disturb my 
balance; so that I had to stagger forward several steps to avoid falling. As I did so I became 
suddenly and agonisingly aware of the nearness of the carrion thing, whose hideous hollow 
breathing I half fancied I could hear. Nearly mad, I found myself yet able to throw out a hand 
to ward off the foetid apparition which pressed so close; when In one cataclysmic second of 
cosmic nightmarishness and hellish accident my fingers touched the rotting outstretched paw 
of the monster beneath the golden arch. 

I did not shriek, but all the fiendish ghouls that ride the night-wind shrieked for me as in that 
same second there crashed down upon my mind a single and fleeting avalanche of soul- 
annlhllating memory. I knew in that second all that had been; I remembered beyond the 
frightful castle and the trees, and recognised the altered edifice in which I now stood; I 
recognised, most terrible of all, the unholy abomination that stood leering before me as I 
withdrew my sullied fingers from its own. 

But in the cosmos there is balm as well as bitterness, and that balm is nepenthe. In the 
supreme horror of that second I forgot what had horrified me, and the burst of black memory 
vanished In a chaos of echoing images. In a dream I fled from that haunted and accursed pile, 
and ran swiftly and silently in the moonlight. When I returned to the churchyard place of 
marble and went down the steps I found the stone trap-door immovable; but I was not sorry, 
for I had hated the antique castle and the trees. Now I ride with the mocking and friendly 
ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka In the 
sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of 
the moon over the rock tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris 
beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost welcome the 
bitterness of alienage. 

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger In this 
century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my 
fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and 
touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Other Gods 


Atop the tallest of earth's peaks dwell the gods of earth, and suffer no man to tell that he hath 
looked upon them. Lesser peaks they once inhabited; but ever the men from the plains would 
scale the slopes of rock and snow, driving the gods to higher and higher mountains till now 
only the last remains. When they left their older peaks they took with them all signs of 
themselves; save once, it is said, when they left a carven image on the face of the mountain 
which they called Ngranek. 

But now they have betaken themselves to unknown Kadath in the cold waste where no man 
treads, and are grown stern, having no higher peak whereto to flee at the coming of men. 
They are grown stern, and where once they suffered men to displace them, they now forbid 
men to come, or coming, to depart. It is well for men that they know not of Kadath in the cold 
waste, else they would seek injudiciously to scale it. 

Sometimes when earth's gods are homesick they visit in the still night the peaks where once 
they dwelt, and weep softly as they try to play in the olden way on remembered slopes. Men 
have felt the tears of the gods on white-capped Thurai, though they have thought it rain; and 
have heard the sighs of the gods in the plaintive dawn-winds of Lerion. In cloud-ships the 
gods are wont to travel, and wise cotters have legends that keep them from certain high 
peaks at night when it is cloudy, for the gods are not lenient as of old. 

In Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, once dwelt an old man avid to behold the gods of 
earth; a man deeply learned in the seven cryptical books of Hsan, and familiar with the 
Pnakotic IVIanuscripts of distant and frozen Lomar. His name was Barzai the Wise, and the 
villagers tell of how he went up a mountain on the night of the strange eclipse. 

Barzai knew so much of the gods that he could tell of their comings and goings, and guessed 
so many of their secrets that he was deemed half a god himself. It was he who wisely advised 
the burgesses of Ulthar when they passed their remarkable law against the slaying of cats, 
and who first told the young priest Atal where it is that black cats go at midnight on St. John's 
Eve. Barzai was learned in the lore of earth's gods, and had gained a desire to look upon their 
faces. He believed that his great secret knowledge of gods could shield him from their wrath, 
so resolved to go up to the summit of high and rocky Hatheg-KIa on a night when he knew the 
gods would be there. 

Hatheg-KIa is far in the stony desert beyond Hatheg, for which it is named, and rises like a 
rock statue in a silent temple. Around its peak the mists play always mournfully, for mists are 
the memories of the gods, and the gods loved Hatheg-KIa when they dwelt upon it in the old 
days. Often the gods of earth visit Hatheg-KIa in their ships of cloud, casting pale vapours 
over the slopes as they dance reminiscently on the summit under a clear moon. The villagers 
of Hatheg say it is ill to climb Hatheg-KIa at any time, and deadly to climb it by night when 
pale vapours hide the summit and the moon; but Barzai heeded them not when he came from 
neighbouring Ulthar with the young priest Atal, who was his disciple. Atal was only the son of 
an innkeeper, and was sometimes afraid; but Barzai's father had been a landgrave who dwelt 
in an ancient castle, so he had no common superstition in his blood, and only laughed at the 
fearful cotters. 

Barzai and Atal went out of Hatheg into the stony desert despite the prayers of peasants, and 
talked of earth's gods by their campfires at night. Many days they travelled, and from afar saw 

lofty Hatheg-KIa with his aureole of mournful mist. On the thirteenth day they reached the 
mountain's lonely base, and Atal spoke of his fears. But Barzal was old and learned and had 
no fears, so led the way boldly up the slope that no man had scaled since the time of Sansu, 
who Is written of with fright In the mouldy Pnakotic Manuscripts. 

The way was rocky, and made perilous by chasms, cliffs, and falling stones. Later it grew cold 
and snowy; and Barzai and Atal often slipped and fell as they hewed and plodded upward 
with staves and axes. Finally the air grew thin, and the sky changed colour, and the climbers 
found It hard to breathe; but still they tolled up and up, marvelling at the strangeness of the 
scene and thrilling at the thought of what would happen on the summit when the moon was 
out and the pale vapours spread around. For three days they climbed higher, higher, and 
higher toward the roof of the world; then they camped to wait for the clouding of the moon. 

For four nights no clouds came, and the moon shone down cold through the thin mournful 
mists around the silent pinnacle. Then on the fifth night, which was the night of the full moon, 
Barzai saw some dense clouds far to the north, and stayed up with Atal to watch them draw 
near. Thick and majestic they sailed, slowly and deliberately onward; ranging themselves 
round the peak high above the watchers, and hiding the moon and the summit from view. For 
a long hour the watchers gazed, whilst the vapours swirled and the screen of clouds grew 
thicker and more restless. Barzai was wise in the lore of earth's gods, and listened hard for 
certain sounds, but Atal felt the chill of the vapours and the awe of the night, and feared 
much. And when Barzai began to climb higher and beckon eagerly, it was long before Atal 
would follow. 

So thick were the vapours that the way was hard, and though Atal followed on at last, he 
could scarce see the grey shape of Barzai on the dim slope above in the clouded moonlight. 
Barzai forged very far ahead, and seemed despite his age to climb more easily than Atal; 
fearing not the steepness that began to grow too great for any save a strong and dauntless 
man, nor pausing at wide black chasms that Atal scarce could leap. And so they went up 
wildly over rocks and gulfs, slipping and stumbling, and sometimes awed at the vastness and 
horrible silence of bleak ice pinnacles and mute granite steeps. 

Very suddenly Barzai went out of Atal's sight, scaling a hideous cliff that seemed to bulge 
outward and block the path for any climber not inspired of earth's gods. Atal was far below, 
and planning what he should do when he reached the place, when curiously he noticed that 
the light had grown strong, as if the cloudless peak and moonlit meeting-place of the gods 
were very near. And as he scrambled on toward the bulging cliff and litten sky he felt fears 
more shocking than any he had known before. Then through the high mists he heard the 
voice of unseen Barzai shouting wildly In delight: 

"I have heard the gods! I have heard earth's gods singing in revelry on Hatheg-KIa! The 
voices of earth's gods are known to Barzai the Prophet! The mists are thin and the moon is 
bright, and I shall see the gods dancing wildly on Hatheg-KIa that they loved in youth! The 
wisdom of Barzai hath made him greater than earth's gods, and against his will their spells 
and barriers are as naught; Barzai will behold the gods, the proud gods, the secret gods, the 
gods of earth who spurn the sight of men!" 

Atal could not hear the voices Barzai heard, but he was now close to the bulging cliff and 
scanning it for foot-holds. Then he heard Barzai's voice grow shriller and louder: 

"The mists are very thin, and the moon casts shadows on the slope; the voices of earth's gods 
are high and wild, and they fear the coming of Barzai the Wise, who is greater than they. . . . 

The moon's light flickers, as earth's gods dance against it; I shall see the dancing forms of the 
gods that leap and howl in the moonlight. . . . The light is dimmer and the gods are afraid. . . ." 

Whilst Barzal was shouting these things Atal felt a spectral change in the air, as if the laws of 
earth were bowing to greater laws; for though the way was steeper than ever, the upward 
path was now grown fearsomely easy, and the bulging cliff proved scarce an obstacle when 
he reached it and slid perilously up its convex face. The light of the moon had strangely failed, 
and as Atal plunged upward through the mists he heard Barzai the Wise shrieking in the 

"The moon is dark, and the gods dance in the night; there is terror in the sky, for upon the 
moon hath sunk an eclipse foretold in no books of men or of earth's gods. . . . There is 
unknown magic on Hatheg-KIa, for the screams of the frightened gods have turned to 
laughter, and the slopes of ice shoot up endlessly into the black heavens whither I am 
plunging. . . . Hei! Hei! At last! In the dim light I behold the gods of earth!" 

And now Atal, slipping dizzily up over inconceivable steeps, heard in the dark a loathsome 
laughing, mixed with such a cry as no man else ever heard save in the Phlegethon of 
unrelatable nightmares; a cry wherein reverberated the horror and anguish of a haunted 
lifetime packed into one atrocious moment: 

"The of/7ergods! The of/7ergods! The gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of 
earth! . . . Look away! ... Go back! ... Do not see! ... Do not see! . . . The vengeance of the 
infinite abysses . . . That cursed, that damnable pit . . . Merciful gods of earth, / am falling into 
the sky!" 

And as Atal shut his eyes and stopped his ears and tried to jump downward against the 
frightful pull from unknown heights, there resounded on Hatheg-KIa that terrible peal of 
thunder which awaked the good cotters of the plains and the honest burgesses of Hatheg and 
Nir and Ulthar, and caused them to behold through the clouds that strange eclipse of the 
moon that no book ever predicted. And when the moon came out at last Atal was safe on the 
lower snows of the mountain without sight of earth's gods, or of the other gods. 

Now it is told in the mouldy Pnakotic Manuscripts that Sansu found naught but wordless ice 
and rock when he climbed Hatheg-KIa in the youth of the world. Yet when the men of Ulthar 
and Nir and Hatheg crushed their fears and scaled that haunted steep by day in search of 
Barzai the Wise, they found graven in the naked stone of the summit a curious and 
Cyclopean symbol fifty cubits wide, as if the rock had been riven by some titanic chisel. And 
the symbol was like to one that learned men have discerned in those frightful parts of the 
Pnakotic Manuscripts which are too ancient to be read. This they found. 

Barzai the Wise they never found, nor could the holy priest Atal ever be persuaded to pray for 
his soul's repose. Moreover, to this day the people of Ulthar and Nir and Hatheg fear eclipses, 
and pray by night when pale vapours hide the mountain-top and the moon. And above the 
mists on Hatheg-KIa earth's gods sometimes dance reminiscently; for they know they are 
safe, and love to come from unknown Kadath in ships of cloud and play in the olden way, as 
they did when earth was new and men not given to the climbing of inaccessible places. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Music of Erich Zann 


I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue 
d'Auseil. These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I 
have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place; and have personally 
explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as 
the Rue d'Auseil. But despite all I have done it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find 
the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished 
life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann. 

That my memory is broken, I do not wonder; for my health, physical and mental, was gravely 
disturbed throughout the period of my residence in the Rue d'Auseil, and ! recall that i took 
none of my few acquaintances there. But that I cannot find the place again is both singular 
and perplexing; for it was within a half-hour's walk of the university and was distinguished by 
peculiarities which could hardly be forgotten by anyone who had been there. I have never met 
a person who has seen the Rue d'Auseil. 

The Rue d'Auseil lay across a dark river bordered by precipitous brick blear-windowed 
warehouses and spanned by a ponderous bridge of dark stone. It was always shadowy along 
that river, as if the smoke of neighbouring factories shut out the sun perpetually. The river was 
also odorous with evil stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere, and which may some 
day help me to find it, since I should recognise them at once. Beyond the bridge were narrow 
cobbled streets with rails; and then came the ascent, at first gradual, but incredibly steep as 
the Rue d'Auseil was reached. 

I have never seen another street as narrow and steep as the Rue d'Auseil. It was almost a 
cliff, closed to all vehicles, consisting in several places of flights of steps, and ending at the 
top in a lofty ivied wall. Its paving was irregular, sometimes stone slabs, sometimes 
cobblestones, and sometimes bare earth with struggling greenish-grey vegetation. The 
houses were tall, peaked-roofed, incredibly old, and crazily leaning backward, forward, and 
sidewise. Occasionally an opposite pair, both leaning fonward, almost met across the street 
like an arch; and certainly they kept most of the light from the ground below. There were a few 
overhead bridges from house to house across the street. 

The inhabitants of that street impressed me peculiarly. At first I thought it was because they 
were all silent and reticent; but later decided it was because they were all very old. I do not 
know how I came to live on such a street, but I was not myself when I moved there. I had 
been living in many poor places, always evicted for want of money; until at last I came upon 
that tottering house in the Rue d'Auseil, kept by the paralytic Blandot. It was the third house 
from the top of the street, and by far the tallest of them all. 

My room was on the fifth story; the only inhabited room there, since the house was almost 
empty. On the night I arrived I heard strange music from the peaked garret overhead, and the 
next day asked old Blandot about it. He told me it was an old German viol-player, a strange 
dumb man who signed his name as Erich Zann, and who played evenings in a cheap theatre 
orchestra; adding that Zann's desire to play in the night after his return from the theatre was 
the reason he had chosen this lofty and isolated garret room, whose single gable window was 
the only point on the street from which one could look over the terminating wall at the declivity 
and panorama beyond. 

Thereafter I heard Zann every night, and although he kept me awake, I was haunted by the 
weirdness of his music. Knowing little of the art myself, I was yet certain that none of his 
harmonies had any relation to music I had heard before; and concluded that he was a 
composer of highly original genius. The longer I listened, the more I was fascinated, until after 
a week I resolved to make the old man's acquaintance. 

One night, as he was returning from his work, I intercepted Zann in the hallway and told him 
that I would like to know him and be with him when he played. He was a small, lean, bent 
person, with shabby clothes, blue eyes, grotesque, satyr-like face, and nearly bald head; and 
at my first words seemed both angered and frightened. My obvious friendliness, however, 
finally melted him; and he grudgingly motioned to me to follow him up the dark, creaking, and 
rickety attic stairs. His room, one of only two in the steeply pitched garret, was on the west 
side, toward the high wall that formed the upper end of the street. Its size was very great, and 
seemed the greater because of its extraordinary bareness and neglect. Of furniture there was 
only a narrow iron bedstead, a dingy washstand, a small table, a large bookcase, an iron 
music-rack, and three old-fashioned chairs. Sheets of music were piled in disorder about the 
floor. The walls were of bare boards, and had probably never known plaster; whilst the 
abundance of dust and cobwebs made the place seem more deserted than inhabited. 
Evidently Erich Zann's world of beauty lay in some far cosmos of the imagination. 

Motioning me to sit down, the dumb man closed the door, turned the large wooden bolt, and 
lighted a candle to augment the one he had brought with him. He now removed his viol from 
its moth-eaten covering, and taking it, seated himself in the least uncomfortable of the chairs. 
He did not employ the music-rack, but offering no choice and playing from memory, 
enchanted me for over an hour with strains I had never heard before; strains which must have 
been of his own devising. To describe their exact nature is impossible for one unversed in 
music. They were a kind of fugue, with recurrent passages of the most captivating quality, but 
to me were notable for the absence of any of the weird notes I had overheard from my room 
below on other occasions. 

Those haunting notes I had remembered, and had often hummed and whistled inaccurately to 
myself; so when the player at length laid down his bow I asked him if he would render some 
of them. As I began my request the wrinkled satyr-like face lost the bored placidity it had 
possessed during the playing, and seemed to shew the same curious mixture of anger and 
fright which I had noticed when first I accosted the old man. For a moment I was inclined to 
use persuasion, regarding rather lightly the whims of senility; and even tried to awaken my 
host's weirder mood by whistling a few of the strains to which 1 had listened the night before. 
But I did not pursue this course for more than a moment; for when the dumb musician 
recognised the whistled air his face grew suddenly distorted with an expression wholly 
beyond analysis, and his long, cold, bony right hand reached out to stop my mouth and 
silence the crude imitation. As he did this he further demonstrated his eccentricity by casting a 
startled glance toward the lone curtained window, as if fearful of some intruder — a glance 
doubly absurd, since the garret stood high and inaccessible above all the adjacent roofs, this 
window being the only point on the steep street, as the concierge had told me, from which 
one could see over the wall at the summit. 

The old man's glance brought Blandot's remark to my mind, and with a certain capriciousness 
I felt a wish to look out over the wide and dizzying panorama of moonlit roofs and city lights 
beyond the hill-top, which of all the dwellers in the Rue d'Auseil only this crabbed musician 
could see. I moved toward the window and would have drawn aside the nondescript curtains, 
when with a frightened rage even greater than before the dumb lodger was upon me again; 

this time motioning witli liis liead toward tine door as lie nervously strove to drag me tliitlier 
witli both hands. Now thoroughly disgusted with my host, I ordered him to release me, and 
told him I would go at once. His clutch relaxed, and as he saw my disgust and offence his 
own anger seemed to subside. He tightened his relaxing grip, but this time in a friendly 
manner; forcing me into a chair, then with an appearance of wistfulness crossing to the 
littered table, where he wrote many words with a pencil in the laboured French of a foreigner. 

The note which he finally handed me was an appeal for tolerance and forgiveness. Zann said 
that he was old, lonely, and afflicted with strange fears and nervous disorders connected with 
his music and with other things. He had enjoyed my listening to his music, and wished I would 
come again and not mind his eccentricities. But he could not play to another his weird 
harmonies, and could not bear hearing them from another; nor could he bear having anything 
in his room touched by another. He had not known until our hallway conversation that I could 
overhear his playing in my room, and now asked me if I would arrange with Blandot to take a 
lower room where I could not hear him in the night. He would, he wrote, defray the difference 
in rent. 

As I sat deciphering the execrable French I felt more lenient toward the old man. He was a 
victim of physical and nervous suffering, as was I; and my metaphysical studies had taught 
me kindness. In the silence there came a slight sound from the window — the shutter must 
have rattled in the night-wind — and for some reason I started almost as violently as did Erich 
Zann. So when I had finished reading I shook my host by the hand, and departed as a friend. 
The next day Blandot gave me a more expensive room on the third floor, between the 
apartments of an aged money-lender and the room of a respectable upholsterer. There was 
no one on the fourth floor. 

It was not long before I found that Zann's eagerness for my company was not as great as it 
had seemed while he was persuading me to move down from the fifth story. He did not ask 
me to call on him, and when I did call he appeared uneasy and played listlessly. This was 
always at night — in the day he slept and would admit no one. My liking for him did not grow, 
though the attic room and the weird music seemed to hold an odd fascination for me. I had a 
curious desire to look out of that window, over the wall and down the unseen slope at the 
glittering roofs and spires which must lie outspread there. Once I went up to the garret during 
theatre hours, when Zann was away, but the door was locked. 

What I did succeed in doing was to overhear the nocturnal playing of the dumb old man. At 
first I would tiptoe up to my old fifth floor, then I grew bold enough to climb the last creaking 
staircase to the peaked garret. There in the narrow hall, outside the bolted door with the 
covered keyhole, I often heard sounds which filled me with an indefinable dread — the dread of 
vague wonder and brooding mystery. It was not that the sounds were hideous, for they were 
not; but that they held vibrations suggesting nothing on this globe of earth, and that at certain 
intervals they assumed a symphonic quality which I could hardly conceive as produced by 
one player. Certainly, Erich Zann was a genius of wild power. As the weeks passed, the 
playing grew wilder, whilst the old musician acquired an increasing haggardness and 
ifurtiveness pitiful to behold. He now refused to admit me at any time, and shunned me 
whenever we met on the stairs. 

Then one night as I listened at the door I heard the shrieking viol swell into a chaotic babel of 
sound; a pandemonium which would have led me to doubt my own shaking sanity had there 
not come from behind that barred portal a piteous proof that the horror was real — the awful, 
inarticulate cry which only a mute can utter, and which rises only in moments of the most 
terrible fear or anguish. I knocked repeatedly at the door, but received no response. Afterward 

I waited in tlie blacl< liallway, sliivering witli cold and fear, till I heard the poor musician's 
feeble effort to rise from the floor by the aid of a chair. Believing him just conscious after a 
fainting fit, I renewed my rapping, at the same time calling out my name reassuringly. I heard 
Zann stumble to the window and close both shutter and sash, then stumble to the door, which 
he falteringly unfastened to admit me. This time his delight at having me present was real; for 
his distorted face gleamed with relief while he clutched at my coat as a child clutches at its 
mother's skirts. 

Shal^ing pathetically, the old man forced me into a chair whilst he sanl< into another, beside 
which his viol and bow lay carelessly on the floor. He sat for some time inactive, nodding 
oddly, but having a paradoxical suggestion of intense and frightened listening. Subsequently 
he seemed to be satisfied, and crossing to a chair by the table wrote a brief note, handed it to 
me, and returned to the table, where he began to write rapidly and incessantly. The note 
implored me in the name of mercy, and for the sal^e of my own curiosity, to wait where I was 
while he prepared a full account in German of all the marvels and terrors which beset him. I 
waited, and the dumb man's pencil flew. 

It was perhaps an hour later, while I still waited and while the old musician's feverishly written 
sheets still continued to pile up, that I saw Zann start as from the hint of a horrible shocl^. 
Unmistal^ably he was lool^ing at the curtained window and listening shudderingly. Then I half 
fancied I heard a sound myself; though it was not a horrible sound, but rather an exquisitely 
low and infinitely distant musical note, suggesting a player in one of the neighbouring houses, 
or in some abode beyond the lofty wall over which I had never been able to look. Upon Zann 
the effect was terrible, for dropping his pencil suddenly he rose, seized his viol, and 
commenced to rend the night with the wildest playing I had ever heard from his bow save 
when listening at the barred door. 

It would be useless to describe the playing of Erich Zann on that dreadful night. It was more 
horrible than anything I had ever overheard, because I could now see the expression of his 
face, and could realise that this time the motive was stark fear. He was trying to make a noise; 
to ward something off or drown something out — what, I could not imagine, awesome though I 
felt it must be. The playing grew fantastic, delirious, and hysterical, yet kept to the last the 
qualities of supreme genius which I knew this strange old man possessed. I recognised the 
air — it was a wild Hungarian dance popular in the theatres, and I reflected for a moment that 
this was the first time I had ever heard Zann play the work of another composer. 

Louder and louder, wilder and wilder, mounted the shrieking and whining of that desperate 
viol. The player was dripping with an uncanny perspiration and twisted like a monkey, always 
looking frantically at the curtained window. In his frenzied strains I could almost see shadowy 
satyrs and Bacchanals dancing and whirling insanely through seething abysses of clouds and 
smoke and lightning. And then I thought I heard a shriller, steadier note that was not from the 
viol; a calm, deliberate, purposeful, mocking note from far away in the west. 

At this juncture the shutter began to rattle in a howling night-wind which had sprung up 
outside as if in answer to the mad playing within. Zann's screaming viol now outdid itself, 
emitting sounds I had never thought a viol could emit. The shutter rattled more loudly, 
unfastened, and commenced slamming against the window. Then the glass broke shiveringly 
under the persistent impacts, and the chill wind rushed in, making the candles sputter and 
rustling the sheets of paper on the table where Zann had begun to write out his horrible 
secret. I looked at Zann, and saw that he was past conscious observation. His blue eyes were 
bulging, glassy, and sightless, and the frantic playing had become a blind, mechanical, 
unrecognisable orgy that no pen could even suggest. 

A sudden gust, stronger than the others, caught up the manuscript and bore it toward the 
window. I followed the flying sheets in desperation, but they were gone before I reached the 
demolished panes. Then I remembered my old wish to gaze from this window, the only 
window in the Rue d'Auseil from which one might see the slope beyond the wall, and the city 
outspread beneath. It was very dark, but the city's lights always burned, and I expected to see 
them there amidst the rain and wind. Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, 
looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no 
city spread below, and no friendly lights gleaming from remembered streets, but only the 
blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no 
semblance to anything on earth. And as I stood there looking in terror, the wind blew out both 
the candles in that ancient peaked garret, leaving me in savage and impenetrable darkness 
with chaos and pandemonium before me, and the daemon madness of that night-baying viol 
behind me. 

I staggered back in the dark, without the means of striking a light, crashing against the table, 
overturning a chair, and finally groping my way to the place where the blackness screamed 
with shocking music. To save myself and Erich Zann I could at least try, whatever the powers 
opposed to me. Once I thought some chill thing brushed me, and I screamed, but my scream 
could not be heard above that hideous viol. Suddenly out of the blackness the madly sawing 
bow struck me, and I knew I was close to the player. I felt ahead, touched the back of Zann's 
chair, and then found and shook his shoulder in an effort to bring him to his senses. 

He did not respond, and still the viol shrieked on without slackening. I moved my hand to his 
head, whose mechanical nodding I was able to stop, and shouted in his ear that we must both 
flee from the unknown things of the night. But he neither answered me nor abated the frenzy 
of his unutterable music, while all through the garret strange currents of wind seemed to 
dance in the darkness and babel. When my hand touched his ear I shuddered, though I knew 
not why — knew not why till I felt of the still face; the ice-cold, stiffened, unbreathing face 
whose glassy eyes bulged uselessly into the void. And then, by some miracle finding the door 
and the large wooden bolt, I plunged wildly away from that glassy-eyed thing in the dark, and 
from the ghoulish howling of that accursed viol whose fury increased even as I plunged. 

Leaping, floating, flying down those endless stairs through the dark house; racing mindlessly 
out into the narrow, steep, and ancient street of steps and tottering houses; clattering down 
steps and over cobbles to the lower streets and the putrid canyon-walled river; panting across 
the great dark bridge to the broader, healthier streets and boulevards we know; all these are 
terrible impressions that linger with me. And I recall that there was no wind, and that the moon 
was out, and that all the lights of the city twinkled. 

Despite my most careful searches and investigations, I have never since been able to find the 
Rue d'Auseil. But I am not wholly sorry; either for this or for the loss in undreamable abysses 
of the closely written sheets which alone could have explained the music of Erich Zann. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Herbert West — Reanimator 


I. From the Dark 

Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme 
terror. This terror is not due altogether to the sinister manner of his recent disappearance, but 
was engendered by the whole nature of his life-work, and first gained its acute form more than 
seventeen years ago, when we were in the third year of our course at the Miskatonic 
University Medical School in Arkham. While he was with me, the wonder and diabolism of his 
experiments fascinated me utterly, and I was his closest companion. Now that he is gone and 
the spell is broken, the actual fear is greater. Memories and possibilities are ever more 
hideous than realities. 

The first horrible incident of our acquaintance was the greatest shock I ever experienced, and 
it is only with reluctance that I repeat it. As I have said. It happened when we were in the 
medical school, where West had already made himself notorious through his wild theories on 
the nature of death and the possibility of overcoming it artificially. His views, which were 
widely ridiculed by the faculty and his fellow-students, hinged on the essentially mechanistic 
nature of life; and concerned means for operating the organic machinery of mankind by 
calculated chemical action after the failure of natural processes. In his experiments with 
various animating solutions he had killed and treated immense numbers of rabbits, guinea- 
pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he had become the prime nuisance of the college. Several 
times he had actually obtained signs of life in animals supposedly dead; in many cases violent 
signs; but he soon saw that the perfection of this process, if indeed possible, would 
necessarily involve a lifetime of research. It likewise became clear that, since the same 
solution never worked alike on different organic species, he would require human subjects for 
further and more specialised progress. It was here that he first came into conflict with the 
college authorities, and was debarred from future experiments by no less a dignitary than the 
dean of the medical school himself — the learned and benevolent Dr. Allan Halsey, whose 
work in behalf of the stricken is recalled by every old resident of Arkham. 

I had always been exceptionally tolerant of West's pursuits, and we frequently discussed his 
theories, whose ramifications and corollaries were almost infinite. Holding with Haeckel that 
all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called "soul" is a myth, my friend 
believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; 
and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with 
suitable measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic 
or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain-cells which 
even a short period of death would be apt to cause. West fully realised. It had at first been his 
hope to find a reagent which would restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only 
repeated failures on animals had shewn him that the natural and artificial life-motions were 
incompatible. He then sought extreme freshness in his specimens, injecting his solutions into 
the blood immediately after the extinction of life. It was this circumstance which made the 
professors so carelessly sceptical, for they felt that true death had not occurred in any case. 
They did not stop to view the matter closely and reasoningly. 

It was not long after the faculty had interdicted his work that West confided to me his 
resolution to get fresh human bodies in some manner, and continue in secret the experiments 
he could no longer perform openly. To hear him discussing ways and means was rather 

ghastly, for at the college we had never procured anatomical specimens ourselves. Whenever 
the morgue proved Inadequate, two local negroes attended to this matter, and they were 
seldom questioned. West was then a small, slender, spectacled youth with delicate features, 
yellow hair, pale blue eyes, and a soft voice, and it was uncanny to hear him dwelling on the 
relative merits of Christchurch Cemetery and the potter's field. We finally decided on the 
potter's field, because practically every body in Christchurch was embalmed; a thing of course 
ruinous to West's researches. 

I was by this time his active and enthralled assistant, and helped him make all his decisions, 
not only concerning the source of bodies but concerning a suitable place for our loathsome 
work. It was I who thought of the deserted Chapman farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill, where 
we fitted up on the ground floor an operating room and a laboratory, each with dark curtains to 
conceal our midnight doings. The place was far from any road, and in sight of no other house, 
yet precautions were none the less necessary; since rumours of strange lights, started by 
chance nocturnal reamers, would soon bring disaster on our enterprise. It was agreed to call 
the whole thing a chemical laboratory if discovery should occur. Gradually we equipped our 
sinister haunt of science with materials either purchased in Boston or quietly borrowed from 
the college — materials carefully made unrecognisable save to expert eyes — and provided 
spades and picks for the many burials we should have to make in the cellar. At the college we 
used an incinerator, but the apparatus was too costly for our unauthorised laboratory. Bodies 
were always a nuisance — even the small guinea-pig bodies from the slight clandestine 
experiments in West's room at the boarding-house. 

We followed the local death-notices like ghouls, for our specimens demanded particular 
qualities. What we wanted were corpses interred soon after death and without artificial 
preservation; preferably free from malforming disease, and certainly with all organs present. 
Accident victims were our best hope. Not for many weeks did we hear of anything suitable; 
though we talked with morgue and hospital authorities, ostensibly in the college's interest, as 
often as we could without exciting suspicion. We found that the college had first choice in 
every case, so that it might be necessary to remain in Arkham during the summer, when only 
the limited summer-school classes were held. In the end, though, luck favoured us; for one 
day we heard of an almost ideal case in the potter's field; a brawny young workman drowned 
only the morning before in Sumner's Pond, and buried at the town's expense without delay or 
embalming. That afternoon we found the new grave, and determined to begin work soon after 

It was a repulsive task that we undertook in the black small hours, even though we lacked at 
that time the special horror of graveyards which later experiences brought to us. We carried 
spades and oil dark lanterns, for although electric torches were then manufactured, they were 
not as satisfactory as the tungsten contrivances of today. The process of unearthing was slow 
and sordid — it might have been gruesomely poetical if we had been artists instead of 
scientists — and we were glad when our spades struck wood. When the pine box was fully 
uncovered West scrambled down and removed the lid, dragging out and propping up the 
contents. I reached down and hauled the contents out of the grave, and then both toiled hard 
to restore the spot to its former appearance. The affair made us rather nervous, especially the 
stiff form and vacant face of our first trophy, but we managed to remove all traces of our visit. 
When we had patted down the last shovelful of earth we put the specimen in a canvas sack 
and set out for the old Chapman place beyond Meadow Hill. 

On an improvised dissecting-table in the old farmhouse, by the light of a powerful acetylene 
lamp, the specimen was not very spectral looking. It had been a sturdy and apparently 

unimaginative youtli of wliolesome plebeian type — large-framed, grey-eyed, and brown- 
haired — a sound animal without psychological subtleties, and probably having vital processes 
of the simplest and healthiest sort. Now, with the eyes closed, it looked more asleep than 
dead; though the expert test of my friend soon left no doubt on that score. We had at last what 
West had always longed for — a real dead man of the ideal kind, ready for the solution as 
prepared according to the most careful calculations and theories for human use. The tension 
on our part became very great. We knew that there was scarcely a chance for anything like 
complete success, and could not avoid hideous fears at possible grotesque results of partial 
animation. Especially were we apprehensive concerning the mind and impulses of the 
creature, since in the space following death some of the more delicate cerebral cells might 
well have suffered deterioration. I, myself, still held some curious notions about the traditional 
"soul" of man, and felt an awe at the secrets that might be told by one returning from the 
dead. I wondered what sights this placid youth might have seen in inaccessible spheres, and 
what he could relate if fully restored to life. But my wonder was not overwhelming, since for 
the most part I shared the materialism of my friend. He was calmer than I as he forced a large 
quantity of his fluid into a vein of the body's arm, immediately binding the incision securely. 

The waiting was gruesome, but West never faltered. Every now and then he applied his 
stethoscope to the specimen, and bore the negative results philosophically. After about three- 
quarters of an hour without the least sign of life he disappointedly pronounced the solution 
inadequate, but determined to make the most of his opportunity and try one change in the 
formula before disposing of his ghastly prize. We had that afternoon dug a grave in the cellar, 
and would have to fill it by dawn — for although we had fixed a lock on the house we wished to 
shun even the remotest risk of a ghoulish discovery. Besides, the body would not be even 
approximately fresh the next night. So taking the solitary acetylene lamp into the adjacent 
laboratory, we left our silent guest on the slab in the dark, and bent every energy to the mixing 
of a new solution; the weighing and measuring supervised by West with an almost fanatical 

The awful event was very sudden, and wholly unexpected. I was pouring something from one 
test-tube to another, and West was busy over the alcohol blast-lamp which had to answer for 
a Bunsen burner in this gasless edifice, when from the pitch-black room we had left there 
burst the most appalling and daemoniac succession of cries that either of us had ever heard. 
Not more unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had opened 
to release the agony of the damned, for in one inconceivable cacophony was centred all the 
supernal terror and unnatural despair of animate nature. Human it could not have been — it is 
not in man to make such sounds — and without a thought of our late employment or its 
possible discovery both West and I leaped to the nearest window like stricken animals; 
overturning tubes, lamp, and retorts, and vaulting madly into the starred abyss of the rural 
night. I think we screamed ourselves as we stumbled frantically toward the town, though as 
we reached the outskirts we put on a semblance of restraint — ^just enough to seem like 
belated revellers staggering home from a debauch. 

We did not separate, but managed to get to West's room, where we whispered with the gas 
up until dawn. By then we had calmed ourselves a little with rational theories and plans for 
investigation, so that we could sleep through the day — classes being disregarded. But that 
evening two items in the paper, wholly unrelated, made it again impossible for us to sleep. 
The old deserted Chapman house had inexplicably burned to an amorphous heap of ashes; 
that we could understand because of the upset lamp. Also, an attempt had been made to 

disturb a new grave in the potter's field, as if by futile and spadeless clawing at the earth. That 
we could not understand, for we had patted down the mould very carefully. 

And for seventeen years after that West would look frequently over his shoulder, and 
complain of fancied footsteps behind him. Now he has disappeared. 

II. The Plague-Daemon 

I shall never forget that hideous summer sixteen years ago, when like a noxious afrite from 
the halls of Eblis typhoid stalked leeringly through Arkham. It is by that satanic scourge that 
most recall the year, for truly terror brooded with bat-wings over the piles of coffins in the 
tombs of Christchurch Cemetery; yet for me there is a greater horror in that time — a horror 
known to me alone now that Herbert West has disappeared. 

West and I were doing post-graduate work in summer classes at the medical school of 
Miskatonic University, and my friend had attained a wide notoriety because of his experiments 
leading toward the revivification of the dead. After the scientific slaughter of uncounted small 
animals the freakish work had ostensibly stopped by order of our sceptical dean. Dr. Allan 
Halsey; though West had continued to perform certain secret tests in his dingy boarding- 
house room, and had on one terrible and unforgettable occasion taken a human body from its 
grave in the potter's field to a deserted farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill. 

I was with him on that odious occasion, and saw him inject Into the still veins the elixir which 
he thought would to some extent restore life's chemical and physical processes. It had ended 
horribly — in a delirium of fear which we gradually came to attribute to our own overwrought 
nerves — and West had never aftenward been able to shake off a maddening sensation of 
being haunted and hunted. The body had not been quite fresh enough; It Is obvious that to 
restore normal mental attributes a body must be very fresh indeed; and a burning of the old 
house had prevented us from burying the thing. It would have been better if we could have 
known it was underground. 

After that experience West had dropped his researches for some time; but as the zeal of the 
born scientist slowly returned, he again became importunate with the college faculty, pleading 
for the use of the dissecting-room and of fresh human specimens for the work he regarded as 
so overwhelmingly Important. His pleas, however, were wholly in vain; for the decision of Dr. 
Halsey was inflexible, and the other professors all endorsed the verdict of their leader. In the 
radical theory of reanimation they saw nothing but the immature vagaries of a youthful 
enthusiast whose slight form, yellow hair, spectacled blue eyes, and soft voice gave no hint of 
the supernormal — almost diabolical — power of the cold brain within. I can see him now as he 
was then — and I shiver. He grew sterner of face, but never elderly. And now Sefton Asylum 
has had the mishap and West has vanished. 

West clashed disagreeably with Dr. Halsey near the end of our last undergraduate term in a 
wordy dispute that did less credit to him than to the kindly dean in point of courtesy. He felt 
that he was needlessly and irrationally retarded in a supremely great work; a work which he 
could of course conduct to suit himself in later years, but which he wished to begin while still 
possessed of the exceptional facilities of the university. That the tradition-bound elders should 
ignore his singular results on animals, and persist in their denial of the possibility of 
reanimation, was inexpressibly disgusting and almost incomprehensible to a youth of West's 
logical temperament. Only greater maturity could help him understand the chronic mental 
limitations of the "professor-doctor" type — the product of generations of pathetic Puritanism; 
kindly, conscientious, and sometimes gentle and amiable, yet always narrow, intolerant, 
custom-ridden, and lacking in perspective. Age has more charity for these incomplete yet 

high-souled characters, whose worst real vice is timidity, and who are ultimately punished by 
general ridicule for their intellectual sins — sins like Ptolemaism, Calvinism, anti-Darwinism, 
anti-Nietzscheism, and every sort of Sabbatarianism and sumptuary legislation. West, young 
despite his marvellous scientific acquirements, had scant patience with good Dr. Halsey and 
his erudite colleagues; and nursed an increasing resentment, coupled with a desire to prove 
his theories to these obtuse worthies in some striking and dramatic fashion. Like most youths, 
he indulged in elaborate day-dreams of revenge, triumph, and final magnanimous 

And then had come the scourge, grinning and lethal, from the nightmare caverns of Tartarus. 
West and I had graduated about the time of its beginning, but had remained for additional 
work at the summer school, so that we were in Arkham when it broke with full daemoniac fury 
upon the town. Though not as yet licenced physicians, we now had our degrees, and were 
pressed frantically into public service as the numbers of the stricken grew. The situation was 
almost past management, and deaths ensued too frequently for the local undertakers fully to 
handle. Burials without embalming were made in rapid succession, and even the Christchurch 
Cemetery receiving tomb was crammed with coffins of the unembalmed dead. This 
circumstance was not without effect on West, who thought often of the irony of the situation — 
so many fresh specimens, yet none for his persecuted researches! We were frightfully 
overworked, and the terrific mental and nervous strain made my friend brood morbidly. 

But West's gentle enemies were no less harassed with prostrating duties. College had all but 
closed, and every doctor of the medical faculty was helping to fight the typhoid plague. Dr. 
Halsey in particular had distinguished himself in sacrificing service, applying his extreme skill 
with whole-hearted energy to cases which many others shunned because of danger or 
apparent hopelessness. Before a month was over the fearless dean had become a popular 
hero, though he seemed unconscious of his fame as he struggled to keep from collapsing 
with physical fatigue and nervous exhaustion. West could not withhold admiration for the 
fortitude of his foe, but because of this was even more determined to prove to him the truth of 
his amazing doctrines. Taking advantage of the disorganisation of both college work and 
municipal health regulations, he managed to get a recently deceased body smuggled into the 
university dissecting-room one night, and in my presence injected a new modification of his 
solution. The thing actually opened its eyes, but only stared at the ceiling with a look of soul- 
petrifying horror before collapsing into an inertness from which nothing could rouse it. West 
said it was not fresh enough — the hot summer air does not favour corpses. That time we were 
almost caught before we incinerated the thing, and West doubted the advisability of repeating 
his daring misuse of the college laboratory. 

The peak of the epidemic was reached in August. West and I were almost dead, and Dr. 
Halsey did die on the 14th. The students all attended the hasty funeral on the 15th, and 
bought an impressive wreath, though the latter was quite overshadowed by the tributes sent 
by wealthy Arkham citizens and by the municipality itself. It was almost a public affair, for the 
dean had surely been a public benefactor. After the entombment we were all somewhat 
depressed, and spent the afternoon at the bar of the Commercial House; where West, though 
shaken by the death of his chief opponent, chilled the rest of us with references to his 
notorious theories. Most of the students went home, or to various duties, as the evening 
advanced; but West persuaded me to aid him in "making a night of it". West's landlady saw us 
arrive at his room about two in the morning, with a third man between us; and told her 
husband that we had all evidently dined and wined rather well. 

Apparently this acidulous matron was right; for about 3 a.m. the whole house was aroused by 
cries coming from West's room, where when they broke down the door they found the two of 
us unconscious on the blood-stained carpet, beaten, scratched, and mauled, and with the 
broken remnants of West's bottles and instruments around us. Only an open window told 
what had become of our assailant, and many wondered how he himself had fared after the 
terrific leap from the second story to the lawn which he must have made. There were some 
strange garments in the room, but West upon regaining consciousness said they did not 
belong to the stranger, but were specimens collected for bacteriological analysis in the course 
of investigations on the transmission of germ diseases. He ordered them burnt as soon as 
possible in the capacious fireplace. To the police we both declared ignorance of our late 
companion's identity. He was, West nervously said, a congenial stranger whom we had met at 
some downtown bar of uncertain location. We had all been rather jovial, and West and I did 
not wish to have our pugnacious companion hunted down. 

That same night saw the beginning of the second Arkham horror — the horror that to me 
eclipsed the plague itself. Christchurch Cemetery was the scene of a terrible killing; a 
watchman having been clawed to death in a manner not only too hideous for description, but 
raising a doubt as to the human agency of the deed. The victim had been seen alive 
considerably after midnight — the dawn revealed the unutterable thing. The manager of a 
circus at the neighbouring town of Bolton was questioned, but he swore that no beast had at 
any time escaped from its cage. Those who found the body noted a trail of blood leading to 
the receiving tomb, where a small pool of red lay on the concrete just outside the gate. A 
fainter trail led away toward the woods, but it soon gave out. 

The next night devils danced on the roofs of Arkham, and unnatural madness howled in the 
wind. Through the fevered town had crept a curse which some said was greater than the 
plague, and which some whispered was the embodied daemon-soul of the plague itself. Eight 
houses were entered by a nameless thing which strewed red death in its wake — in all, 
seventeen maimed and shapeless remnants of bodies were left behind by the voiceless, 
sadistic monster that crept abroad. A few persons had half seen it in the dark, and said it was 
white and like a malformed ape or anthropomorphic fiend. It had not left behind quite all that it 
had attacked, for sometimes it had been hungry. The number it had killed was fourteen; three 
of the bodies had been in stricken homes and had not been alive. 

On the third night frantic bands of searchers, led by the police, captured it in a house on 
Crane Street near the Miskatonic campus. They had organised the quest with care, keeping in 
touch by means of volunteer telephone stations, and when someone in the college district had 
reported hearing a scratching at a shuttered window, the net was quickly spread. On account 
of the general alarm and precautions, there were only two more victims, and the capture was 
effected without major casualties. The thing was finally stopped by a bullet, though not a fatal 
one, and was rushed to the local hospital amidst universal excitement and loathing. 

For it had been a man. This much was clear despite the nauseous eyes, the voiceless 
simianism, and the daemoniac savagery. They dressed its wound and carted it to the asylum 
at Sefton, where it beat its head against the walls of a padded cell for sixteen years — until the 
recent mishap, when it escaped under circumstances that few like to mention. What had most 
disgusted the searchers of Arkham was the thing they noticed when the monster's face was 
cleaned — the mocking, unbelievable resemblance to a learned and self-sacrificing martyr who 
had been entombed but three days before— the late Dr. Allan Halsey, public benefactor and 
dean of the medical school of Miskatonic University. 

To the vanished Herbert West and to me the disgust and horror were supreme. I shudder 
tonight as I think of it; shudder even more than I did that morning when West muttered 
through his bandages, 

"Damn it, it wasn't quite fresh enough!" 

III. Six Shots by Midnight 

It is uncommon to fire all six shots of a revolver with great suddenness when one would 
probably be sufficient, but many things in the life of Herbert West were uncommon. It is, for 
instance, not often that a young physician leaving college is obliged to conceal the principles 
which guide his selection of a home and office, yet that was the case with Herbert West. 
When he and I obtained our degrees at the medical school of Miskatonic University, and 
sought to relieve our poverty by setting up as general practitioners, we took great care not to 
say that we chose our house because it was fairly well isolated, and as near as possible to 
the potter's field. 

Reticence such as this is seldom without a cause, nor indeed was ours; for our requirements 
were those resulting from a life-work distinctly unpopular. Outwardly we were doctors only, but 
beneath the surface were aims of far greater and more terrible moment — for the essence of 
Herbert West's existence was a quest amid black and forbidden realms of the unknown, in 
which he hoped to uncover the secret of life and restore to perpetual animation the 
graveyard's cold clay. Such a quest demands strange materials, among them fresh human 
bodies; and in order to keep supplied with these indispensable things one must live quietly 
and not far from a place of informal interment. 

West and I had met in college, and I had been the only one to sympathise with his hideous 
experiments. Gradually I had come to be his inseparable assistant, and now that we were out 
of college we had to keep together. It was not easy to find a good opening for two doctors in 
company, but finally the influence of the university secured us a practice in Bolton — a factory 
town near Arkham, the seat of the college. The Bolton Worsted Mills are the largest in the 
Miskatonic Valley, and their polyglot employees are never popular as patients with the local 
physicians. We chose our house with the greatest care, seizing at last on a rather run-down 
cottage near the end of Pond Street; five numbers from the closest neighbour, and separated 
from the local potter's field by only a stretch of meadow land, bisected by a narrow neck of the 
rather dense forest which lies to the north. The distance was greater than we wished, but we 
could get no nearer house without going on the other side of the field, wholly out of the factory 
district. We were not much displeased, however, since there were no people between us and 
our sinister source of supplies. The walk was a trifle long, but we could haul our silent 
specimens undisturbed. 

Our practice was surprisingly large from the very first — large enough to please most young 
doctors, and large enough to prove a bore and a burden to students whose real interest lay 
elsewhere. The mill-hands were of somewhat turbulent inclinations; and besides their many 
natural needs, their frequent clashes and stabbing affrays gave us plenty to do. But what 
actually absorbed our minds was the secret laboratory we had fitted up in the cellar — the 
laboratory with the long table under the electric lights, where in the small hours of the morning 
we often injected West's various solutions into the veins of the things we dragged from the 
potter's field. West was experimenting madly to find something which would start man's vital 
motions anew after they had been stopped by the thing we call death, but had encountered 
the most ghastly obstacles. The solution had to be differently compounded for different 

types — what would serve for guinea-pigs would not serve for human beings, and different 
human specimens required large modifications. 

The bodies had to be exceedingly fresh, or the slight decomposition of brain tissue would 
render perfect reanimation impossible. Indeed, the greatest problem was to get them fresh 
enough — West had had horrible experiences during his secret college researches with 
corpses of doubtful vintage. The results of partial or imperfect animation were much more 
hideous than were the total failures, and we both held fearsome recollections of such things. 
Ever since our first daemonlac session In the deserted farmhouse on Meadow Hill in Arkham, 
we had felt a brooding menace; and West, though a calm, blond, blue-eyed scientific 
automaton in most respects, often confessed to a shuddering sensation of stealthy pursuit. 
He half felt that he was followed — a psychological delusion of shaken nerves, enhanced by 
the undeniably disturbing fact that at least one of our reanimated specimens was still alive — a 
frightful carnivorous thing in a padded cell at Sefton. Then there was another — our first — 
whose exact fate we had never learned. 

We had fair luck with specimens in Bolton — much better than in Arkham. We had not been 
settled a week before we got an accident victim on the very night of burial, and made it open 
Its eyes with an amazingly rational expression before the solution failed. It had lost an arm — if 
it had been a perfect body we might have succeeded better. Between then and the next 
January we secured three more; one total failure, one case of marked muscular motion, and 
one rather shivery thing — it rose of itself and uttered a sound. Then came a period when luck 
was poor; interments fell off, and those that did occur were of specimens either too diseased 
or too maimed for use. We kept track of all the deaths and their circumstances with 
systematic care. 

One March night, however, we unexpectedly obtained a specimen which did not come from 
the potter's field. In Bolton the prevailing spirit of Puritanism had outlawed the sport of 
boxing — with the usual result. Surreptitious and ill-conducted bouts among the mill-workers 
were common, and occasionally professional talent of low grade was imported. This late 
winter night there had been such a match; evidently with disastrous results, since two 
timorous Poles had come to us with Incoherently whispered entreaties to attend to a very 
secret and desperate case. We followed them to an abandoned barn, where the remnants of 
a crowd of frightened foreigners were watching a silent black form on the floor. 

The match had been between Kid O'Brien — a lubberly and now quaking youth with a most un- 
Hibernian hooked nose — and Buck Robinson, "The Harlem Smoke". The negro had been 
knocked out, and a moment's examination shewed us that he would permanently remain so. 
He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help 
calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and 
tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon. The body must have looked even worse In life — but 
the world holds many ugly things. Fear was upon the whole pitiful crowd, for they did not 
know what the law would exact of them if the affair were not hushed up; and they were 
grateful when West, in spite of my involuntary shudders, offered to get rid of the thing 
quietly — for a purpose I knew too well. 

There was bright moonlight over the snowless landscape, but we dressed the thing and 
carried it home between us through the deserted streets and meadows, as we had carried a 
similar thing one horrible night In Arkham. We approached the house from the field In the rear, 
took the specimen in the back door and down the cellar stairs, and prepared it for the usual 
experiment. Our fear of the police was absurdly great, though we had timed our trip to avoid 
the solitary patrolman of that section. 

The result was wearily anticlimactic. Ghastly as our prize appeared, it was wholly 
unresponsive to every solution we injected in its black arm; solutions prepared from 
experience with white specimens only. So as the hour grew dangerously near to dawn, we did 
as we had done with the others — dragged the thing across the meadows to the neck of the 
woods near the potter's field, and buried it there in the best sort of grave the frozen ground 
would furnish. The grave was not very deep, but fully as good as that of the previous 
specimen — the thing which had risen of itself and uttered a sound. In the light of our dark 
lanterns we carefully covered it with leaves and dead vines, fairly certain that the police would 
never find it in a forest so dim and dense. 

The next day I was increasingly apprehensive about the police, for a patient brought rumours 
of a suspected fight and death. West had still another source of worry, for he had been called 
in the afternoon to a case which ended very threateningly. An Italian woman had become 
hysterical over her missing child — a lad of five who had strayed off early in the morning and 
failed to appear for dinner — and had developed symptoms highly alarming in view of an 
always weak heart. It was a very foolish hysteria, for the boy had often run away before; but 
Italian peasants are exceedingly superstitious, and this woman seemed as much harassed by 
omens as by facts. About seven o'clock in the evening she had died, and her frantic husband 
had made a frightful scene in his efforts to kill West, whom he wildly blamed for not saving her 
life. Friends had held him when he drew a stiletto, but West departed amidst his inhuman 
shrieks, curses, and oaths of vengeance. In his latest affliction the fellow seemed to have 
forgotten his child, who was still missing as the night advanced. There was some talk of 
searching the woods, but most of the family's friends were busy with the dead woman and the 
screaming man. Altogether, the nervous strain upon West must have been tremendous. 
Thoughts of the police and of the mad Italian both weighed heavily. 

We retired about eleven, but I did not sleep well. Bolton had a surprisingly good police force 
for so small a town, and I could not help fearing the mess which would ensue if the affair of 
the night before were ever tracked down. It might mean the end of all our local work — and 
perhaps prison for both West and me. I did not like those rumours of a fight which were 
floating about. After the clock had struck three the moon shone in my eyes, but I turned over 
without rising to pull down the shade. Then came the steady rattling at the back door. 

I lay still and somewhat dazed, but before long heard West's rap on my door. He was clad in 
dressing-gown and slippers, and had in his hands a revolver and an electric flashlight. From 
the revolver I knew that he was thinking more of the crazed Italian than of the police. 

"We'd better both go," he whispered. "It wouldn't do not to answer it anyway, and it may be a 
patient — it would be like one of those fools to try the back door." 

So we both went down the stairs on tiptoe, with a fear partly justified and partly that which 
comes only from the soul of the weird small hours. The rattling continued, growing somewhat 
louder. When we reached the door I cautiously unbolted it and threw it open, and as the moon 
streamed revealingly down on the form silhouetted there. West did a peculiar thing. Despite 
the obvious danger of attracting notice and bringing down on our heads the dreaded police 
investigation — a thing which after all was mercifully averted by the relative isolation of our 
cottage — my friend suddenly, excitedly, and unnecessarily emptied all six chambers of his 
revolver into the nocturnal visitor. 

For that visitor was neither Italian nor policeman. Looming hideously against the spectral 
moon was a gigantic misshapen thing not to be imagined save in nightmares — a glassy-eyed, 
ink-black apparition nearly on all fours, covered with bits of mould, leaves, and vines, foul with 

caked blood, and having between its glistening teeth a snow-white, terrible, cylindrical object 
terminating in a tiny hand. 

IV. The Scream of the Dead 

The scream of a dead man gave to me that acute and added horror of Dr. Herbert West which 
harassed the latter years of our companionship. It is natural that such a thing as a dead man's 
scream should give horror, for it is obviously not a pleasing or ordinary occurrence; but I was 
used to similar experiences, hence suffered on this occasion only because of a particular 
circumstance. And, as I have implied, it was not of the dead man himself that I became afraid. 

Herbert West, whose associate and assistant I was, possessed scientific interests far beyond 
the usual routine of a village physician. That was why, when establishing his practice in 
Bolton, he had chosen an isolated house near the potter's field. Briefly and brutally stated, 
West's sole absorbing interest was a secret study of the phenomena of life and its cessation, 
leading toward the reanimation of the dead through injections of an excitant solution. For this 
ghastly experimenting it was necessary to have a constant supply of very fresh human 
bodies; very fresh because even the least decay hopelessly damaged the brain structure, and 
human because we found that the solution had to be compounded differently for different 
types of organisms. Scores of rabbits and guinea-pigs had been killed and treated, but their 
trail was a blind one. West had never fully succeeded because he had never been able to 
secure a corpse sufficiently fresh. What he wanted were bodies from which vitality had only 
just departed; bodies with every cell intact and capable of receiving again the impulse toward 
that mode of motion called life. There was hope that this second and artificial life might be 
made perpetual by repetitions of the injection, but we had learned that an ordinary natural life 
would not respond to the action. To establish the artificial motion, natural life must be extinct — 
the specimens must be very fresh, but genuinely dead. 

The awesome quest had begun when West and I were students at the Miskatonic University 
Medical School in Arkham, vividly conscious for the first time of the thoroughly mechanical 
nature of life. That was seven years before, but West looked scarcely a day older now — he 
was small, blond, clean-shaven, soft-voiced, and spectacled, with only an occasional flash of 
a cold blue eye to tell of the hardening and growing fanaticism of his character under the 
pressure of his terrible investigations. Our experiences had often been hideous in the 
extreme; the results of defective reanimation, when lumps of graveyard clay had been 
galvanised into morbid, unnatural, and brainless motion by various modifications of the vital 

One thing had uttered a nerve-shattering scream; another had risen violently, beaten us both 
to unconsciousness, and run amuck in a shocking way before it could be placed behind 
asylum bars; still another, a loathsome African monstrosity, had clawed out of its shallow 
grave and done a deed — West had had to shoot that object. We could not get bodies fresh 
enough to shew any trace of reason when reanimated, so had perforce created nameless 
horrors. It was disturbing to think that one, perhaps two, of our monsters still lived — that 
thought haunted us shadowingly, till finally West disappeared under frightful circumstances. 
But at the time of the scream in the cellar laboratory of the isolated Bolton cottage, our fears 
were subordinate to our anxiety for extremely fresh specimens. West was more avid than I, so 
that it almost seemed to me that he looked half -covetously at any very healthy living 

It was in July, 1910, that the bad luck regarding specimens began to turn. I had been on a 
long visit to my parents in Illinois, and upon my return found West in a state of singular 

elation. He had, he told me excitedly, in all likelihood solved the problem of freshness through 
an approach from an entirely new angle — that of artificial preservation. I had known that he 
was working on a new and highly unusual embalming compound, and was not surprised that 
it had turned out well; but until he explained the details I was rather puzzled as to how such a 
compound could help in our work, since the objectionable staleness of the specimens was 
largely due to delay occurring before we secured them. This, I now saw. West had clearly 
recognised; creating his embalming compound for future rather than immediate use, and 
trusting to fate to supply again some very recent and unburied corpse, as it had years before 
when we obtained the negro killed in the Bolton prize-fight. At last fate had been kind, so that 
on this occasion there lay in the secret cellar laboratory a corpse whose decay could not by 
any possibility have begun. What would happen on reanimation, and whether we could hope 
for a revival of mind and reason. West did not venture to predict. The experiment would be a 
landmark in our studies, and he had saved the new body for my return, so that both might 
share the spectacle in accustomed fashion. 

West told me how he had obtained the specimen. It had been a vigorous man; a well-dressed 
stranger just off the train on his way to transact some business with the Bolton Worsted IVIills. 
The walk through the town had been long, and by the time the traveller paused at our cottage 
to ask the way to the factories his heart had become greatly overtaxed. He had refused a 
stimulant, and had suddenly dropped dead only a moment later. The body, as might be 
expected, seemed to West a heaven-sent gift. In his brief conversation the stranger had made 
it clear that he was unknown in Bolton, and a search of his pockets subsequently revealed 
him to be one Robert Leavitt of St. Louis, apparently without a family to make instant inquiries 
about his disappearance. If this man could not be restored to life, no one would know of our 
experiment. We buried our materials in a dense strip of woods between the house and the 
potter's field, if, on the other hand, he could be restored, our fame would be brilliantly and 
perpetually established. So without delay West had injected into the body's wrist the 
compound which would hold it fresh for use after my arrival. The matter of the presumably 
weak heart, which to my mind imperiled the success of our experiment, did not appear to 
trouble West extensively. He hoped at last to obtain what he had never obtained before — a 
rekindled spark of reason and perhaps a normal, living creature. 

So on the night of July 18, 1910, Herbert West and I stood in the cellar laboratory and gazed 
at a white, silent figure beneath the dazzling arc-light. The embalming compound had worked 
uncannily well, for as I stared fascinatedly at the sturdy frame which had lain two weeks 
without stiffening I was moved to seek West's assurance that the thing was really dead. This 
assurance he gave readily enough; reminding me that the reanimating solution was never 
used without careful tests as to life; since it could have no effect if any of the original vitality 
were present. As West proceeded to take preliminary steps, I was impressed by the vast 
intricacy of the new experiment; an intricacy so vast that he could trust no hand less delicate 
than his own. Forbidding me to touch the body, he first injected a drug in the wrist just beside 
the place his needle had punctured when injecting the embalming compound. This, he said, 
was to neutralise the compound and release the system to a normal relaxation so that the 
reanimating solution might freely work when injected. Slightly later, when a change and a 
gentle tremor seemed to affect the dead limbs. West stuffed a pillow-like object violently over 
the twitching face, not withdrawing it until the corpse appeared quiet and ready for our attempt 
at reanimation. The pale enthusiast now applied some last perfunctory tests for absolute 
lifelessness, withdrew satisfied, and finally injected into the left arm an accurately measured 
amount of the vital elixir, prepared during the afternoon with a greater care than we had used 
since college days, when our feats were new and groping. I cannot express the wild. 

breathless suspense with which we waited for results on this first really fresh specimen — the 
first we could reasonably expect to open its lips in rational speech, perhaps to tell of what it 
had seen beyond the unfathomable abyss. 

West was a materialist, believing in no soul and attributing all the working of consciousness to 
bodily phenomena; consequently he looked for no revelation of hideous secrets from gulfs 
and caverns beyond death's barrier. I did not wholly disagree with him theoretically, yet held 
vague instinctive remnants of the primitive faith of my forefathers; so that I could not help 
eyeing the corpse with a certain amount of awe and terrible expectation. Besides — I could not 
extract from my memory that hideous, inhuman shriek we heard on the night we tried our first 
experiment in the deserted farmhouse at Arkham. 

Very little time had elapsed before I saw the attempt was not to be a total failure. A touch of 
colour came to cheeks hitherto chalk-white, and spread out under the curiously ample stubble 
of sandy beard. West, who had his hand on the pulse of the left wrist, suddenly nodded 
significantly; and almost simultaneously a mist appeared on the mirror inclined above the 
body's mouth. There followed a few spasmodic muscular motions, and then an audible 
breathing and visible motion of the chest. I looked at the closed eyelids, and thought I 
detected a quivering. Then the lids opened, shewing eyes which were grey, calm, and alive, 
but still unintelligent and not even curious. 

In a moment of fantastic whim I whispered questions to the reddening ears; questions of other 
worlds of which the memory might still be present. Subsequent terror drove them from my 
mind, but I think the last one, which I repeated, was: "Where have you been?" I do not yet 
know whether I was answered or not, for no sound came from the well-shaped mouth; but I 
do know that at that moment I firmly thought the thin lips moved silently, forming syllables I 
would have vocalised as "only now" if that phrase had possessed any sense or relevancy. At 
that moment, as I say, I was elated with the conviction that the one great goal had been 
attained; and that for the first time a reanimated corpse had uttered distinct words impelled by 
actual reason. In the next moment there was no doubt about the triumph; no doubt that the 
solution had truly accomplished, at least temporarily, its full mission of restoring rational and 
articulate life to the dead. But in that triumph there came to me the greatest of all horrors — not 
horror of the thing that spoke, but of the deed that I had witnessed and of the man with whom 
my professional fortunes were joined. 

For that very fresh body, at last writhing into full and terrifying consciousness with eyes dilated 
at the memory of its last scene on earth, threw out its frantic hands in a life and death struggle 
with the air; and suddenly collapsing into a second and final dissolution from which there 
could be no return, screamed out the cry that will ring eternally in my aching brain: 

"Help! Keep off, you cursed little tow-head fiend — keep that damned needle away from me!" 

V. The Horror from the Shadows 

Many men have related hideous things, not mentioned in print, which happened on the 
battlefields of the Great War. Some of these things have made me faint, others have 
convulsed me with devastating nausea, while still others have made me tremble and look 
behind me in the dark; yet despite the worst of them I believe I can myself relate the most 
hideous thing of all — the shocking, the unnatural, the unbelievable horror from the shadows. 

In 1915 1 was a physician with the rank of First Lieutenant in a Canadian regiment in 
Flanders, one of many Americans to precede the government itself into the gigantic struggle. I 
had not entered the army on my own initiative, but rather as a natural result of the enlistment 

of the man whose indispensable assistant I was — the celebrated Boston surgical specialist, 
Dr. Herbert West. Dr. West had been avid for a chance to serve as surgeon in a great war, 
and when the chance had come he carried me with him almost against my will. There were 
reasons why I would have been glad to let the war separate us; reasons why I found the 
practice of medicine and the companionship of West more and more irritating; but when he 
had gone to Ottawa and through a colleague's influence secured a medical commission as 
Major, I could not resist the imperious persuasion of one determined that I should accompany 
him in my usual capacity. 

When I say that Dr. West was avid to serve in battle, I do not mean to imply that he was either 
naturally warlike or anxious for the safety of civilisation. Always an ice-cold intellectual 
machine; slight, blond, blue-eyed, and spectacled; I think he secretly sneered at my 
occasional martial enthusiasms and censures of supine neutrality. There was, however, 
something he wanted in embattled Flanders; and in order to secure it he had to assume a 
military exterior. What he wanted was not a thing which many persons want, but something 
connected with the peculiar branch of medical science which he had chosen quite 
clandestinely to follow, and in which he had achieved amazing and occasionally hideous 
results. It was, in fact, nothing more or less than an abundant supply of freshly killed men in 
every stage of dismemberment. 

Herbert West needed fresh bodies because his life-work was the reanimation of the dead. 
This work was not known to the fashionable clientele who had so swiftly built up his fame after 
his arrival in Boston; but was only too well known to me, who had been his closest friend and 
sole assistant since the old days in Miskatonic University Medical School at Arkham. It was in 
those college days that he had begun his terrible experiments, first on small animals and then 
on human bodies shockingly obtained. There was a solution which he injected into the veins 
of dead things, and if they were fresh enough they responded in strange ways. He had had 
much trouble in discovering the proper formula, for each type of organism was found to need 
a stimulus especially adapted to it. Terror stalked him when he reflected on his partial failures; 
nameless things resulting from imperfect solutions or from bodies insufficiently fresh. A certain 
number of these failures had remained alive — one was in an asylum while others had 
vanished — and as he thought of conceivable yet virtually impossible eventualities he often 
shivered beneath his usual stolidity. 

West had soon learned that absolute freshness was the prime requisite for useful specimens, 
and had accordingly resorted to frightful and unnatural expedients in body-snatching. In 
college, and during our early practice together in the factory town of Bolton, my attitude 
toward him had been largely one of fascinated admiration; but as his boldness in methods 
grew, I began to develop a gnawing fear. I did not like the way he looked at healthy living 
bodies; and then there came a nightmarish session in the cellar laboratory when I learned that 
a certain specimen had been a living body when he secured it. That was the first time he had 
ever been able to revive the quality of rational thought in a corpse; and his success, obtained 
at such a loathsome cost, had completely hardened him. 

Of his methods in the intervening five years I dare not speak. I was held to him by sheer force 
of fear, and witnessed sights that no human tongue could repeat. Gradually I came to find 
Herbert West himself more horrible than anything he did — that was when it dawned on me 
that his once normal scientific zeal for prolonging life had subtly degenerated into a mere 
morbid and ghoulish curiosity and secret sense of charnel picturesqueness. His interest 
became a hellish and perverse addiction to the repellently and fiendishly abnormal; he 
gloated calmly over artificial monstrosities which would make most healthy men drop dead 

from fright and disgust; lie became, beliind liis pallid intellectuality, a fastidious Baudelaire of 
physical experiment — a languid Elagabalus of the tombs. 

Dangers he met unflinchingly; crimes he committed unmoved. I think the climax came when 
he had proved his point that rational life can be restored, and had sought new worlds to 
conquer by experimenting on the reanimation of detached parts of bodies. He had wild and 
original ideas on the independent vital properties of organic cells and nerve-tissue separated 
from natural physiological systems; and achieved some hideous preliminary results in the 
form of never-dying, artificially nourished tissue obtained from the nearly hatched eggs of an 
indescribable tropical reptile. Two biological points he was exceedingly anxious to settle — first, 
whether any amount of consciousness and rational action be possible without the brain, 
proceeding from the spinal cord and various nerve-centres; and second, whether any kind of 
ethereal, Intangible relation distinct from the material cells may exist to link the surgically 
separated parts of what has previously been a single living organism. All this research work 
required a prodigious supply of freshly slaughtered human flesh — and that was why Herbert 
West had entered the Great War. 

The phantasmal, unmentionable thing occurred one midnight late in March, 1915, in a field 
hospital behind the lines at St. Eloi. I wonder even now if it could have been other than a 
daemonlac dream of delirium. West had a private laboratory in an east room of the barn-like 
temporary edifice, assigned him on his plea that he was devising new and radical methods for 
the treatment of hitherto hopeless cases of maiming. There he worked like a butcher in the 
midst of his gory wares — I could never get used to the levity with which he handled and 
classified certain things. At times he actually did perform marvels of surgery for the soldiers; 
but his chief delights were of a less public and philanthropic kind, requiring many explanations 
of sounds which seemed peculiar even amidst that babel of the damned. Among these 
sounds were frequent revolver-shots — surely not uncommon on a battlefield, but distinctly 
uncommon in an hospital. Dr. West's reanimated specimens were not meant for long 
existence or a large audience. Besides human tissue. West employed much of the reptile 
embryo tissue which he had cultivated with such singular results. It was better than human 
material for maintaining life in organless fragments, and that was now my friend's chief 
activity. In a dark corner of the laboratory, over a queer incubating burner, he kept a large 
covered vat full of this reptilian cell-matter; which multiplied and grew puffily and hideously. 

On the night of which I speak we had a splendid new specimen — a man at once physically 
powerful and of such high mentality that a sensitive nervous system was assured. It was 
rather ironic, for he was the officer who had helped West to his commission, and who was 
now to have been our associate. Moreover, he had in the past secretly studied the theory of 
reanimation to some extent under West. Major Sir Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, D.S.O., was 
the greatest surgeon in our division, and had been hastily assigned to the St. Elol sector when 
news of the heavy fighting reached headquarters. He had come in an aeroplane piloted by the 
intrepid Lieut. Ronald Hill, only to be shot down when directly over his destination. The fall 
had been spectacular and awful; Hill was unrecognisable afterward, but the wreck yielded up 
the great surgeon in a nearly decapitated but otherwise intact condition. West had greedily 
seized the lifeless thing which had once been his friend and fellow-scholar; and I shuddered 
when he finished severing the head, placed it in his hellish vat of pulpy reptile-tissue to 
preserve it for future experiments, and proceeded to treat the decapitated body on the 
operating table. He injected new blood, joined certain veins, arteries, and nerves at the 
headless neck, and closed the ghastly aperture with engrafted skin from an unidentified 
specimen which had borne an officer's uniform. 1 knew what he wanted — to see if this highly 

organised body could exhibit, witliout its liead, any of tine signs of mental life which had 
distinguished Sir Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee. Once a student of reanimation, this silent trunk 
was now gruesomely called upon to exemplify it. 

I can still see Herbert West under the sinister electric light as he injected his reanimating 
solution into the arm of the headless body. The scene I cannot describe — I should faint if I 
tried it, for there is madness in a room full of classified charnel things, with blood and lesser 
human debris almost ankle-deep on the slimy floor, and with hideous reptilian abnormalities 
sprouting, bubbling, and baking over a winking bluish-green spectre of dim flame in a far 
corner of black shadows. 

The specimen, as West repeatedly observed, had a splendid nervous system. Much was 
expected of it; and as a few twitching motions began to appear, I could see the feverish 
interest on West's face. He was ready, I think, to see proof of his increasingly strong opinion 
that consciousness, reason, and personality can exist independently of the brain — that man 
has no central connective spirit, but is merely a machine of nervous matter, each section 
more or less complete in itself. In one triumphant demonstration West was about to relegate 
the mystery of life to the category of myth. The body now twitched more vigorously, and 
beneath our avid eyes commenced to heave in a frightful way. The arms stirred disquietingly, 
the legs drew up, and various muscles contracted in a repulsive kind of writhing. Then the 
headless thing threw out its arms in a gesture which was unmistakably one of desperation — 
an intelligent desperation apparently sufficient to prove every theory of Herbert West. 
Certainly, the nerves were recalling the man's last act in life; the struggle to get free of the 
falling aeroplane. 

What followed, I shall never positively know. It may have been wholly an hallucination from 
the shock caused at that instant by the sudden and complete destruction of the building in a 
cataclysm of German shell-fire — who can gainsay it, since West and I were the only proved 
survivors? West liked to think that before his recent disappearance, but there were times 
when he could not; for it was queer that we both had the same hallucination. The hideous 
occurrence itself was very simple, notable only for what it implied. 

The body on the table had risen with a blind and terrible groping, and we had heard a sound. I 
should not call that sound a voice, for it was too awful. And yet its timbre was not the most 
awful thing about it. Neither was its message — it had merely screamed, "Jump, Ronald, for 
God's sake, jump!" The awful thing was its source. 

For it had come from the large covered vat in that ghoulish corner of crawling black shadows. 

VI. The Tomb-Legions 

When Dr. Herbert West disappeared a year ago, the Boston police questioned me closely. 
They suspected that I was holding something back, and perhaps suspected graver things; but 
I could not tell them the truth because they would not have believed it. They knew, indeed, 
that West had been connected with activities beyond the credence of ordinary men; for his 
hideous experiments in the reanimation of dead bodies had long been too extensive to admit 
of perfect secrecy; but the final soul-shattering catastrophe held elements of daemoniac 
phantasy which make even me doubt the reality of what I saw. 

I was West's closest friend and only confidential assistant. We had met years before, in 
medical school, and from the first I had shared his terrible researches. He had slowly tried to 
perfect a solution which, injected into the veins of the newly deceased, would restore life; a 
labour demanding an abundance of fresh corpses and therefore involving the most unnatural 

actions. Still more shocking were the products of some of the experiments — grisly masses of 
flesh that had been dead, but that West waked to a blind, brainless, nauseous animation. 
These were the usual results, for in order to reawaken the mind it was necessary to have 
specimens so absolutely fresh that no decay could possibly affect the delicate brain-cells. 

This need for very fresh corpses had been West's moral undoing. They were hard to get, and 
one awful day he had secured his specimen while it was still alive and vigorous. A struggle, a 
needle, and a powerful alkaloid had transformed it to a very fresh corpse, and the experiment 
had succeeded for a brief and memorable moment; but West had emerged with a soul 
calloused and seared, and a hardened eye which sometimes glanced with a kind of hideous 
and calculating appraisal at men of especially sensitive brain and especially vigorous 
physique. Toward the last I became acutely afraid of West, for he began to look at me that 
way. People did not seem to notice his glances, but they noticed my fear; and after his 
disappearance used that as a basis for some absurd suspicions. 

West, in reality, was more afraid than I; for his abominable pursuits entailed a life of 
furtiveness and dread of every shadow. Partly it was the police he feared; but sometimes his 
nervousness was deeper and more nebulous, touching on certain indescribable things into 
which he had injected a morbid life, and from which he had not seen that life depart. He 
usually finished his experiments with a revolver, but a few times he had not been quick 
enough. There was that first specimen on whose rifled grave marks of clawing were later 
seen. There was also that Arkham professor's body which had done cannibal things before it 
had been captured and thrust unidentified into a madhouse cell at Sefton, where it beat the 
walls for sixteen years. IVIost of the other possibly surviving results were things less easy to 
speak of — for in later years West's scientific zeal had degenerated to an unhealthy and 
fantastic mania, and he had spent his chief skill in vitalising not entire human bodies but 
isolated parts of bodies, or parts joined to organic matter other than human. It had become 
fiendishly disgusting by the time he disappeared; many of the experiments could not even be 
hinted at in print. The Great War, through which both of us served as surgeons, had 
intensified this side of West. 

In saying that West's fear of his specimens was nebulous, I have in mind particularly its 
complex nature. Part of it came merely from knowing of the existence of such nameless 
monsters, while another part arose from apprehension of the bodily harm they might under 
certain circumstances do him. Their disappearance added horror to the situation — of them all 
West knew the whereabouts of only one, the pitiful asylum thing. Then there was a more 
subtle fear — a very fantastic sensation resulting from a curious experiment in the Canadian 
army in 1915. West, in the midst of a severe battle, had reanimated Major Sir Eric Moreland 
Clapham-Lee, D.S.O., a fellow-physician who knew about his experiments and could have 
duplicated them. The head had been removed, so that the possibilities of quasi-intelligent life 
in the trunk might be investigated. Just as the building was wiped out by a German shell, 
there had been a success. The trunk had moved intelligently; and, unbelievable to relate, we 
were both sickeningly sure that articulate sounds had come from the detached head as it lay 
in a shadowy corner of the laboratory. The shell had been merciful, in a way — but West could 
never feel as certain as he wished, that we two were the only survivors. He used to make 
shuddering conjectures about the possible actions of a headless physician with the power of 
reanimating the dead. 

West's last quarters were in a venerable house of much elegance, overlooking one of the 
oldest burying-grounds in Boston. He had chosen the place for purely symbolic and 
fantastically aesthetic reasons, since most of the interments were of the colonial period and 

therefore of little use to a scientist seeking very fresh bodies. The laboratory was in a sub- 
cellar secretly constructed by Imported workmen, and contained a huge incinerator for the 
quiet and complete disposal of such bodies, or fragments and synthetic mockeries of bodies, 
as might remain from the morbid experiments and unhallowed amusements of the owner. 
During the excavation of this cellar the workmen had struck some exceedingly ancient 
masonry; undoubtedly connected with the old burying-ground, yet far too deep to correspond 
with any known sepulchre therein. After a number of calculations West decided that it 
represented some secret chamber beneath the tomb of the Averills, where the last interment 
had been made in 1768. I was with him when he studied the nitrous, dripping walls laid bare 
by the spades and mattocks of the men, and was prepared for the gruesome thrill which 
would attend the uncovering of centuried grave-secrets; but for the first time West's new 
timidity conquered his natural curiosity, and he betrayed his degenerating fibre by ordering the 
masonry left intact and plastered over. Thus it remained till that final hellish night; part of the 
walls of the secret laboratory. I speak of West's decadence, but must add that it was a purely 
mental and intangible thing. Outwardly he was the same to the last — calm, cold, slight, and 
yellow-haired, with spectacled blue eyes and a general aspect of youth which years and fears 
seemed never to change. He seemed calm even when he thought of that clawed grave and 
looked over his shoulder; even when he thought of the carnivorous thing that gnawed and 
pawed at Sefton bars. 

The end of Herbert West began one evening in our joint study when he was dividing his 
curious glance between the newspaper and me. A strange headline item had struck at him 
from the crumpled pages, and a nameless titan claw had seemed to reach down through 
sixteen years. Something fearsome and incredible had happened at Sefton Asylum fifty miles 
away, stunning the neighbourhood and baffling the police. In the small hours of the morning a 
body of silent men had entered the grounds and their leader had aroused the attendants. He 
was a menacing military figure who talked without moving his lips and whose voice seemed 
almost ventriloquially connected with an immense black case he carried. His expressionless 
face was handsome to the point of radiant beauty, but had shocked the superintendent when 
the hall light fell on it — for it was a wax face with eyes of painted glass. Some nameless 
accident had befallen this man. A larger man guided his steps; a repellent hulk whose bluish 
face seemed half eaten away by some unknown malady. The speaker had asked for the 
custody of the cannibal monster committed from Arkham sixteen years before; and upon 
being refused, gave a signal which precipitated a shocking riot. The fiends had beaten, 
trampled, and bitten every attendant who did not flee; killing four and finally succeeding in the 
liberation of the monster. Those victims who could recall the event without hysteria swore that 
the creatures had acted less like men than like unthinkable automata guided by the wax-faced 
leader. By the time help could be summoned, every trace of the men and of their mad charge 
had vanished. 

From the hour of reading this item until midnight. West sat almost paralysed. At midnight the 
doorbell rang, startling him fearfully. All the servants were asleep in the attic, so I answered 
the bell. As I have told the police, there was no wagon in the street; but only a group of 
strange-looking figures bearing a large square box which they deposited in the hallway after 
one of them had grunted in a highly unnatural voice, "Express — prepaid." They filed out of the 
house with a jerky tread, and as I watched them go I had an odd idea that they were turning 
toward the ancient cemetery on which the back of the house abutted. When I slammed the 
door after them West came downstairs and looked at the box. It was about two feet square, 
and bore West's correct name and present address. It also bore the inscription, "From Eric 
Moreland Clapham-Lee, St. Eloi, Flanders". Six years before, in Flanders, a shelled hospital 

had fallen upon the headless reanimated trunk of Dr. Clapham-Lee, and upon the detached 
head which — perhaps — had uttered articulate sounds. 

West was not even excited now. His condition was more ghastly. Quickly he said, "It's the 
finish — but let's incinerate — this." We carried the thing down to the laboratory — listening. I do 
not remember many particulars — you can imagine my state of mind — but it is a vicious lie to 
say it was Herbert West's body which I put into the incinerator. We both inserted the whole 
unopened wooden box, closed the door, and started the electricity. Nor did any sound come 
from the box, after all. 

It was West who first noticed the falling plaster on that part of the wall where the ancient tomb 
masonry had been covered up. I was going to run, but he stopped me. Then I saw a small 
black aperture, felt a ghoulish wind of ice, and smelled the charnel bowels of a putrescent 
earth. There was no sound, but just then the electric lights went out and I saw outlined against 
some phosphorescence of the nether world a horde of silent toiling things which only 
insanity — or worse — could create. Their outlines were human, semi-human, fractionally 
human, and not human at all — the horde was grotesquely heterogeneous. They were 
removing the stones quietly, one by one, from the centuried wall. And then, as the breach 
became large enough, they came out into the laboratory in single file; led by a stalking thing 
with a beautiful head made of wax. A sort of mad-eyed monstrosity behind the leader seized 
on Herbert West. West did not resist or utter a sound. Then they all sprang at him and tore 
him to pieces before my eyes, bearing the fragments away into that subterranean vault of 
fabulous abominations. West's head was carried off by the wax-headed leader, who wore a 
Canadian officer's uniform. As it disappeared I saw that the blue eyes behind the spectacles 
were hideously blazing with their first touch of frantic, visible emotion. 

Servants found me unconscious in the morning. West was gone. The incinerator contained 
only unidentifiable ashes. Detectives have questioned me, but what can I say? The Sefton 
tragedy they will not connect with West; not that, nor the men with the box, whose existence 
they deny. I told them of the vault, and they pointed to the unbroken plaster wall and laughed. 
So I told them no more. They imply that I am a madman or a murderer — probably I am mad. 
But I might not be mad if those accursed tomb-legions had not been so silent. 

Return to Table of Contents 


To S. L 

"Apropos of sleep, that sinister adventure of all our nights, we may say that men go 
to bed daily with an audacity that would be incomprehensible if we did not know 
that it is the result of ignorance of the danger." 
— Baudelaire. 

May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, 
or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep. Death is 
merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him who has come back out of the 
nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests nevermore. Fool that I was 
to plunge with such unsanctioned phrensy into mysteries no man was meant to penetrate; 
fool or god that he was — my only friend, who led me and went before me, and who in the end 
passed into terrors which may yet be mine. 

We met, I recall, in a railway station, where he was the centre of a crowd of the vulgarly 
curious. He was unconscious, having fallen in a kind of convulsion which imparted to his slight 
black-clad body a strange rigidity. I think he was then approaching forty years of age, for there 
were deep lines in the face, wan and hollow-cheeked, but oval and actually beautiful; and 
touches of grey in the thick, waving hair and small full beard which had once been of the 
deepest raven black. His brow was white as the marble of Pentelicus, and of a height and 
breadth almost godlike. I said to myself, with all the ardour of a sculptor, that this man was a 
faun's statue out of antique Hellas, dug from a temple's ruins and brought somehow to life in 
our stifling age only to feel the chill and pressure of devastating years. And when he opened 
his immense, sunken, and wildly luminous black eyes I knew he would be thenceforth my only 
friend — the only friend of one who had never possessed a friend before — for I saw that such 
eyes must have looked fully upon the grandeur and the terror of realms beyond normal 
consciousness and reality; realms which I had cherished in fancy, but vainly sought. So as I 
drove the crowd away I told him he must come home with me and be my teacher and leader 
in unfathomed mysteries, and he assented without speaking a word. Afterward I found that his 
voice was music — the music of deep viols and of crystalline spheres. We talked often in the 
night, and in the day, when I chiselled busts of him and carved miniature heads in ivory to 
immortalise his different expressions. 

Of our studies it is impossible to speak, since they held so slight a connexion with anything of 
the world as living men conceive it. They were of that vaster and more appalling universe of 
dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper than matter, time, and space, and whose 
existence we suspect only in certain forms of sleep — those rare dreams beyond dreams 
which come never to common men, and but once or twice in the lifetime of imaginative men. 
The cosmos of our waking knowledge, born from such an universe as a bubble is born from 
the pipe of a jester, touches it only as such a bubble may touch its sardonic source when 
sucked back by the jester's whim. Men of learning suspect it little, and ignore it mostly. Wise 
men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed. One man with Oriental eyes has 
said that all time and space are relative, and men have laughed. But even that man with 
Oriental eyes has done no more than suspect. I had wished and tried to do more than 
suspect, and my friend had tried and partly succeeded. Then we both tried together, and with 

exotic drugs courted terrible and forbidden dreams in tine tower studio cliamber of tine old 
manor-house in hoary Kent. 

Among the agonies of these after days is that chief of torments — inarticulateness. What I 
learned and saw in those hours of impious exploration can never be told — for want of symbols 
or suggestions in any language. I say this because from first to last our discoveries partook 
only of the nature of sensations; sensations correlated with no impression which the nervous 
system of normal humanity is capable of receiving. They were sensations, yet within them lay 
unbelievable elements of time and space — things which at bottom possess no distinct and 
definite existence. Human utterance can best convey the general character of our 
experiences by calling them plungings or soarings; for in every period of revelation some part 
of our minds broke boldly away from all that is real and present, rushing aerially along 
shocking, unlighted, and fear-haunted abysses, and occasionally tear/ng through certain well- 
marked and typical obstacles describable only as viscous, uncouth clouds or vapours. In 
these black and bodiless flights we were sometimes alone and sometimes together. When we 
were together, my friend was always far ahead; I could comprehend his presence despite the 
absence of form by a species of pictorial memory whereby his face appeared to me, golden 
from a strange light and frightful with its weird beauty. Its anomalously youthful cheeks, its 
burning eyes, its Olympian brow, and Its shadowing hair and growth of beard. 

Of the progress of time we kept no record, for time had become to us the merest illusion. I 
know only that there must have been something very singular involved, since we came at 
length to marvel why we did not grow old. Our discourse was unholy, and always hideously 
ambitious — no god or daemon could have aspired to discoveries and conquests like those 
which we planned In whispers. I shiver as I speak of them, and dare not be explicit; though I 
will say that my friend once wrote on paper a wish which he dared not utter with his tongue, 
and which made me burn the paper and look affrightedly out of the window at the spangled 
night sky. I will hint — only hint — that he had designs which involved the rulership of the visible 
universe and more; designs whereby the earth and the stars would move at his command, 
and the destinies of all living things be his. I affirm — I swear — that I had no share in these 
extreme aspirations. Anything my friend may have said or written to the contrary must be 
erroneous, for I am no man of strength to risk the unmentionable warfare in unmentionable 
spheres by which alone one might achieve success. 

There was a night when winds from unknown spaces whirled us irresistibly into limitless 
vacua beyond all thought and entity. Perceptions of the most maddeningly untransmlsslble 
sort thronged upon us; perceptions of infinity which at the time convulsed us with joy, yet 
which are now partly lost to my memory and partly incapable of presentation to others. 
Viscous obstacles were clawed through in rapid succession, and at length I felt that we had 
been borne to realms of greater remoteness than any we had previously known. My friend 
was vastly in advance as we plunged into this awesome ocean of virgin aether, and I could 
see the sinister exultation on his floating, luminous, too youthful memory-face. Suddenly that 
face became dim and quickly disappeared, and In a brief space I found myself projected 
against an obstacle which I could not penetrate. It was like the others, yet incalculably denser; 
a sticky, clammy mass, if such terms can be applied to analogous qualities in a non-material 

I had, I felt, been halted by a barrier which my friend and leader had successfully passed. 
Struggling anew, I came to the end of the drug-dream and opened my physical eyes to the 
tower studio in whose opposite corner reclined the pallid and still unconscious form of my 
fellow-dreamer, weirdly haggard and wildly beautiful as the moon shed gold-green light on his 

marble features. Then, after a short interval, the form in the corner stirred; and may pitying 
heaven keep from my sight and sound another thing like that which took place before me. I 
cannot tell you how he shrieked, or what vistas of unvisitable hells gleamed for a second in 
black eyes crazed with fright. I can only say that I fainted, and did not stir till he himself 
recovered and shook me in his phrensy for someone to keep away the horror and desolation. 

That was the end of our voluntary searchings in the caverns of dream. Awed, shaken, and 
portentous, my friend who had been beyond the barrier warned me that we must never 
venture within those realms again. What he had seen, he dared not tell me; but he said from 
his wisdom that we must sleep as little as possible, even if drugs were necessary to keep us 
awake. That he was right, I soon learned from the unutterable fear which engulfed me 
whenever consciousness lapsed. After each short and inevitable sleep I seemed older, whilst 
my friend aged with a rapidity almost shocking. It is hideous to see wrinkles form and hair 
whiten almost before one's eyes. Our mode of life was now totally altered. Heretofore a 
recluse so far as I know — his true name and origin never having passed his lips — my friend 
now became frantic in his fear of solitude. At night he would not be alone, nor would the 
company of a few persons calm him. His sole relief was obtained in revelry of the most 
general and boisterous sort; so that few assemblies of the young and the gay were unknown 
to us. Our appearance and age seemed to excite in most cases a ridicule which I keenly 
resented, but which my friend considered a lesser evil than solitude. Especially was he afraid 
to be out of doors alone when the stars were shining, and if forced to this condition he would 
often glance furtively at the sky as if hunted by some monstrous thing therein. He did not 
always glance at the same place in the sky — it seemed to be a different place at different 
times. On spring evenings it would be low in the northeast. In the summer it would be nearly 
overhead. In the autumn it would be in the northwest. In winter it would be in the east, but 
mostly if in the small hours of morning. IVIidwinter evenings seemed least dreadful to him. 
Only after two years did I connect this fear with anything in particular; but then I began to see 
that he must be looking at a special spot on the celestial vault whose position at different 
times corresponded to the direction of his glance — a spot roughly marked by the constellation 
Corona Borealis. 

We now had a studio in London, never separating, but never discussing the days when we 
had sought to plumb the mysteries of the unreal world. We were aged and weak from our 
drugs, dissipations, and nervous overstrain, and the thinning hair and beard of my friend had 
become snow-white. Our freedom from long sleep was surprising, for seldom did we succumb 
more than an hour or two at a time to the shadow which had now grown so frightful a menace. 
Then came one January of fog and rain, when money ran low and drugs were hard to buy. My 
statues and ivory heads were all sold, and I had no means to purchase new materials, or 
energy to fashion them even had I possessed them. We suffered terribly, and on a certain 
night my friend sank into a deep-breathing sleep from which I could not awaken him. I can 
recall the scene now — the desolate, pitch-black garret studio under the eaves with the rain 
beating down; the ticking of the lone clock; the fancied ticking of our watches as they rested 
on the dressing-table; the creaking of some swaying shutter in a remote part of the house; 
certain distant city noises muffled by fog and space; and worst of all the deep, steady, sinister 
breathing of my friend on the couch — a rhythmical breathing which seemed to measure 
moments of supernal fear and agony for his spirit as it wandered in spheres forbidden, 
unimagined, and hideously remote. 

The tension of my vigil became oppressive, and a wild train of trivial impressions and 
associations thronged through my almost unhinged mind. I heard a clock strike somewhere — 

not ours, for that was not a striking clock — and my morbid fancy found in tliis a new starting- 
point for idle wanderings. Clocks — time — space — infinity — and then my fancy reverted to the 
local as I reflected that even now, beyond the roof and the fog and the rain and the 
atmosphere. Corona Borealis was rising in the northeast. Corona Borealis, which my friend 
had appeared to dread, and whose scintillant semicircle of stars must even now be glowing 
unseen through the measureless abysses of aether. All at once my feverishly sensitive ears 
seemed to detect a new and wholly distinct component in the soft medley of drug-magnified 
sounds — a low and damnably insistent whine from very far away; droning, clamouring, 
mocking, calling, from the northeast. 

But it was not that distant whine which robbed me of my faculties and set upon my soul such 
a seal of fright as may never in life be removed; not that which drew the shrieks and excited 
the convulsions which caused lodgers and police to break down the door. It was not what I 
heard, but what I saw;ior in that dark, locked, shuttered, and curtained room there appeared 
from the black northeast corner a shaft of horrible red-gold light — a shaft which bore with it no 
glow to disperse the darkness, but which streamed only upon the recumbent head of the 
troubled sleeper, bringing out in hideous duplication the luminous and strangely youthful 
memory-face as I had known it in dreams of abysmal space and unshackled time, when my 
friend had pushed behind the barrier to those secret, innermost, and forbidden caverns of 

And as I looked, I beheld the head rise, the black, liquid, and deep-sunken eyes open in 
terror, and the thin, shadowed lips part as if for a scream too frightful to be uttered. There 
dwelt in that ghastly and flexible face, as it shone bodiless, luminous, and rejuvenated in the 
blackness, more of stark, teeming, brain-shattering fear than all the rest of heaven and earth 
has ever revealed to me. No word was spoken amidst the distant sound that grew nearer and 
nearer, but as I followed the memory-face's mad stare along that cursed shaft of light to its 
source, the source whence also the whining came, I too saw for an instant what it saw, and 
fell with ringing ears in that fit of shrieking and epilepsy which brought the lodgers and the 
police. Never could I tell, try as I might, what it actually was that I saw; nor could the still face 
tell, for although it must have seen more than I did, it will never speak again. But always I 
shall guard against the mocking and insatiate Hypnos, lord of sleep, against the night sky, and 
against the mad ambitions of knowledge and philosophy. 

Just what happened is unknown, for not only was my own mind unseated by the strange and 
hideous thing, but others were tainted with a forgetfulness which can mean nothing if not 
madness. They have said, I know not for what reason, that I never had a friend, but that art, 
philosophy, and insanity had filled all my tragic life. The lodgers and police on that night 
soothed me, and the doctor administered something to quiet me, nor did anyone see what a 
nightmare event had taken place. IVIy stricken friend moved them to no pity, but what they 
found on the couch in the studio made them give me a praise which sickened me, and now a 
fame which I spurn in despair as I sit for hours, bald, grey-bearded, shrivelled, palsied, drug- 
crazed, and broken, adoring and praying to the object they found. 

For they deny that I sold the last of my statuary, and point with ecstasy at the thing which the 
shining shaft of light left cold, petrified, and unvocal. It is all that remains of my friend; the 
friend who led me on to madness and wreckage; a godlike head of such marble as only old 
Hellas could yield, young with the youth that is outside time, and with beauteous bearded 
face, curved, smiling lips, Olympian brow, and dense locks waving and poppy-crowned. They 
say that that haunting memory-face is modelled from my own, as it was at twenty-five, but 
upon the marble base is carven a single name in the letters of Attica — 'YIINOI. 

Return to Table of Contents 

What the Moon Brings 


I hate the moon — I am afraid of it — for when it shines on certain scenes familiar and loved it 
sometimes makes them unfamiliar and hideous. 

It was in the spectral summer when the moon shone down on the old garden where I 
wandered; the spectral summer of narcotic flowers and humid seas of foliage that bring wild 
and many-coloured dreams. And as I walked by the shallow crystal stream I saw unwonted 
ripples tipped with yellow light, as if those placid waters were drawn on in resistless currents 
to strange oceans that are not in the world. Silent and sparkling, bright and baleful, those 
moon-cursed waters hurried I knew not whither; whilst from the embowered banks white lotos 
blossoms fluttered one by one in the opiate night-wind and dropped despairingly into the 
stream, swirling away horribly under the arched, carven bridge, and staring back with the 
sinister resignation of calm, dead faces. 

And as I ran along the shore, crushing sleeping flowers with heedless feet and maddened 
ever by the fear of unknown things and the lure of the dead faces, I saw that the garden had 
no end under that moon; for where by day the walls were, there stretched now only new 
vistas of trees and paths, flowers and shrubs, stone idols and pagodas, and bondings of the 
yellow-litten stream past grassy banks and under grotesque bridges of marble. And the lips of 
the dead lotos-faces whispered sadly, and bade me follow, nor did I cease my steps till the 
stream became a river, and joined amidst marshes of swaying reeds and beaches of 
gleaming sand the shore of a vast and nameless sea. 

Upon that sea the hateful moon shone, and over its unvocal waves weird perfumes brooded. 
And as I saw therein the lotos-faces vanish, I longed for nets that I might capture them and 
learn from them the secrets which the moon had brought upon the night. But when the moon 
went over to the west and the still tide ebbed from the sullen shore, I saw in that light old 
spires that the waves almost uncovered, and white columns gay with festoons of green 
seaweed. And knowing that to this sunken place all the dead had come, I trembled and did 
not wish again to speak with the lotos-faces. 

Yet when I saw afar out in the sea a black condor descend from the sky to seek rest on a vast 
reef, I would fain have questioned him, and asked him of those whom I had known when they 
were alive. This I would have asked him had he not been so far away, but he was very far, 
and could not be seen at all when he drew nigh that gigantic reef. 

So I watched the tide go out under that sinking moon, and saw gleaming the spires, the 
towers, and the roofs of that dead, dripping city. And as I watched, my nostrils tried to close 
against the perfume-conquering stench of the world's dead; for truly, in this unplaced and 
forgotten spot had all the flesh of the churchyards gathered for puffy sea-worms to gnaw and 
glut upon. 

Over those horrors the evil moon now hung very low, but the puffy worms of the sea need no 
moon to feed by. And as I watched the ripples that told of the writhing of worms beneath, I felt 
a new chill from afar out whither the condor had flown, as if my flesh had caught a horror 
before my eyes had seen it. 

Nor had my flesh trembled without cause, for when I raised my eyes I saw that the waters had 
ebbed very low, shewing much of the vast reef whose rim I had seen before. And when I saw 

that this reef was but the black basalt crown of a shocking eikon whose monstrous forehead 
now shone in the dim moonlight and whose vile hooves must paw the hellish ooze miles 
below, I shrieked and shrieked lest the hidden face rise above the waters, and lest the hidden 
eyes look at me after the slinking away of that leering and treacherous yellow moon. 

And to escape this relentless thing I plunged gladly and unhesitatingly into the stinking 
shallows where amidst weedy walls and sunken streets fat sea-worms feast upon the world's 

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When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities 
reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the 
sun or of spring's flowering meads; when learning stripped earth of her mantle of beauty, and 
poets sang no more save of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward-looking eyes; 
when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone away forever, there was a 
man who travelled out of life on a quest into the spaces whither the world's dreams had fled. 

Of the name and abode of this man but little is written, for they were of the waking world only; 
yet it is said that both were obscure. It is enough to know that he dwelt in a city of high walls 
where sterile twilight reigned, and that he toiled all day among shadow and turmoil, coming 
home at evening to a room whose one window opened not on the fields and groves but on a 
dim court where other windows stared in dull despair. From that casement one might see only 
walls and windows, except sometimes when one leaned far out and peered aloft at the small 
stars that passed. And because mere walls and windows must soon drive to madness a man 
who dreams and reads much, the dweller in that room used night after night to lean out and 
peer aloft to glimpse some fragment of things beyond the waking world and the greyness of 
tall cities. After years he began to call the slow-sailing stars by name, and to follow them in 
fancy when they glided regretfully out of sight; till at length his vision opened to many secret 
vistas whose existence no common eye suspects. And one night a mighty gulf was bridged, 
and the dream-haunted skies swelled down to the lonely watcher's window to merge with the 
close air of his room and make him a part of their fabulous wonder. 

There came to that room wild streams of violet midnight glittering with dust of gold; vortices of 
dust and fire, swirling out of the ultimate spaces and heavy with perfumes from beyond the 
worlds. Opiate oceans poured there, litten by suns that the eye may never behold and having 
in their whirlpools strange dolphins and sea-nymphs of unrememberable deeps. Noiseless 
infinity eddied around the dreamer and wafted him away without even touching the body that 
leaned stiffly from the lonely window; and for days not counted in men's calendars the tides of 
far spheres bare him gently to join the dreams for which he longed; the dreams that men have 
lost. And in the course of many cycles they tenderly left him sleeping on a green sunrise 
shore; a green shore fragrant with lotus-blossoms and starred by red camalotes. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Hound 


In my tortured ears there sounds unceasingly a nightmare whirring and flapping, and a faint, 
distant baying as of some gigantic hound. It is not dream — it is not, I fear, even madness — for 
too much has already happened to give me these merciful doubts. St. John is a mangled 
corpse; I alone know why, and such is my knowledge that I am about to blow out my brains for 
fear I shall be mangled in the same way. Down unlit and illimitable corridors of eldritch 
phantasy sweeps the black, shapeless Nemesis that drives me to self-annihilation. 

May heaven forgive the folly and morbidity which led us both to so monstrous a fate! Wearied 
with the commonplaces of a prosaic world, where even the joys of romance and adventure 
soon grow stale, St. John and I had followed enthusiastically every aesthetic and intellectual 
movement which promised respite from our devastating ennui. The enigmas of the Symbolists 
and the ecstasies of the pre-Raphaelites all were ours in their time, but each new mood was 
drained too soon of its diverting novelty and appeal. Only the sombre philosophy of the 
Decadents could hold us, and this we found potent only by increasing gradually the depth and 
diabolism of our penetrations. Baudelaire and Huysmans were soon exhausted of thrills, till 
finally there remained for us only the more direct stimuli of unnatural personal experiences 
and adventures. It was this frightful emotional need which led us eventually to that detestable 
course which even in my present fear I mention with shame and timidity — that hideous 
extremity of human outrage, the abhorred practice of grave-robbing. 

I cannot reveal the details of our shocking expeditions, or catalogue even partly the worst of 
the trophies adorning the nameless museum we prepared in the great stone house where we 
jointly dwelt, alone and servantless. Our museum was a blasphemous, unthinkable place, 
where with the satanic taste of neurotic virtuosi we had assembled an universe of terror and 
decay to excite our jaded sensibilities. It was a secret room, far, far underground; where huge 
winged daemons carven of basalt and onyx vomited from wide grinning mouths weird green 
and orange light, and hidden pneumatic pipes ruffled into kaleidoscopic dances of death the 
lines of red charnel things hand in hand woven in voluminous black hangings. Through these 
pipes came at will the odours our moods most craved; sometimes the scent of pale funeral 
lilies, sometimes the narcotic incense of imagined Eastern shrines of the kingly dead, and 
sometimes — how I shudder to recall it! — the frightful, soul-upheaving stenches of the 
uncovered grave. 

Around the walls of this repellent chamber were cases of antique mummies alternating with 
comely, life-like bodies perfectly stuffed and cured by the taxidermist's art, and with 
headstones snatched from the oldest churchyards of the world. Niches here and there 
contained skulls of all shapes, and heads preserved in various stages of dissolution. There 
one might find the rotting, bald pates of famous noblemen, and the fresh and radiantly golden 
heads of new-buried children. Statues and paintings there were, all of fiendish subjects and 
some executed by St. John and myself. A locked portfolio, bound in tanned human skin, held 
certain unknown and unnamable drawings which it was rumoured Goya had perpetrated but 
dared not acknowledge. There were nauseous musical instruments, stringed, brass, and 
wood-wind, on which St. John and I sometimes produced dissonances of exquisite morbidity 
and cacodaemoniacal ghastliness; whilst in a multitude of inlaid ebony cabinets reposed the 
most incredible and unimaginable variety of tomb-loot ever assembled by human madness 

and perversity. It is of tliis loot in particular that I must not speak — thank God I had the 
courage to destroy it long before I thought of destroying myself. 

The predatory excursions on which we collected our unmentionable treasures were always 
artistically memorable events. We were no vulgar ghouls, but worked only under certain 
conditions of mood, landscape, environment, weather, season, and moonlight. These 
pastimes were to us the most exquisite form of aesthetic expression, and we gave their 
details a fastidious technical care. An inappropriate hour, a jarring lighting effect, or a clumsy 
manipulation of the damp sod, would almost totally destroy for us that ecstatic titillation which 
followed the exhumation of some ominous, grinning secret of the earth. Our quest for novel 
scenes and piquant conditions was feverish and insatiate — St. John was always the leader, 
and he it was who led the way at last to that mocking, that accursed spot which brought us 
our hideous and inevitable doom. 

By what malign fatality were we lured to that terrible Holland churchyard? I think it was the 
dark rumour and legendry, the tales of one buried for five centuries, who had himself been a 
ghoul in his time and had stolen a potent thing from a mighty sepulchre. I can recall the scene 
in these final moments — the pale autumnal moon over the graves, casting long horrible 
shadows; the grotesque trees, drooping sullenly to meet the neglected grass and the 
crumbling slabs; the vast legions of strangely colossal bats that flew against the moon; the 
antique ivied church pointing a huge spectral finger at the livid sky; the phosphorescent 
insects that danced like death-fires under the yews in a distant corner; the odours of mould, 
vegetation, and less explicable things that mingled feebly with the night-wind from over far 
swamps and seas; and worst of all, the faint deep-toned baying of some gigantic hound which 
we could neither see nor definitely place. As we heard this suggestion of baying we 
shuddered, remembering the tales of the peasantry; for he whom we sought had centuries 
before been found in this selfsame spot, torn and mangled by the claws and teeth of some 
unspeakable beast. 

I remembered how we delved in this ghoul's grave with our spades, and how we thrilled at the 
picture of ourselves, the grave, the pale watching moon, the horrible shadows, the grotesque 
trees, the titanic bats, the antique church, the dancing death-fires, the sickening odours, the 
gently moaning night-wind, and the strange, half-heard, directionless baying, of whose 
objective existence we could scarcely be sure. Then we struck a substance harder than the 
damp mould, and beheld a rotting oblong box crusted with mineral deposits from the long 
undisturbed ground. It was incredibly tough and thick, but so old that we finally pried it open 
and feasted our eyes on what it held. 

Much — amazingly much — was left of the object despite the lapse of five hundred years. The 
skeleton, though crushed in places by the jaws of the thing that had killed it, held together 
with surprising firmness, and we gloated over the clean white skull and its long, firm teeth and 
its eyeless sockets that once had glowed with a charnel fever like our own. In the coffin lay an 
amulet of curious and exotic design, which had apparently been worn around the sleeper's 
neck. It was the oddly conventionalised figure of a crouching winged hound, or sphinx with a 
semi-canine face, and was exquisitely carved in antique Oriental fashion from a small piece of 
green jade. The expression on its features was repellent in the extreme, savouring at once of 
death, bestiality, and malevolence. Around the base was an inscription in characters which 
neither St. John nor 1 could identify; and on the bottom, like a maker's seal, was graven a 
grotesque and formidable skull. 

Immediately upon beholding this amulet we knew that we must possess it; that this treasure 
alone was our logical pelf from the centuried grave. Even had its outlines been unfamiliar we 

would have desired it, but as we looked more closely we saw that it was not wholly unfamiliar. 
Alien it indeed was to all art and literature which sane and balanced readers know, but we 
recognised it as the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul 
Alhazred; the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Long, in Central 
Asia. All too well did we trace the sinister lineaments described by the old Arab 
daemonologist; lineaments, he wrote, drawn from some obscure supernatural manifestation of 
the souls of those who vexed and gnawed at the dead. 

Seizing the green jade object, we gave a last glance at the bleached and cavern-eyed face of 
its owner and closed up the grave as we found it. As we hastened from that abhorrent spot, 
the stolen amulet in St. John's pocket, we thought we saw the bats descend in a body to the 
earth we had so lately rifled, as if seeking for some cursed and unholy nourishment. But the 
autumn moon shone weak and pale, and we could not be sure. So, too, as we sailed the next 
day away from Holland to our home, we thought we heard the faint distant baying of some 
gigantic hound in the background. But the autumn wind moaned sad and wan, and we could 
not be sure. 


Less than a week after our return to England, strange things began to happen. We lived as 
recluses; devoid of friends, alone, and without servants in a few rooms of an ancient manor- 
house on a bleak and unfrequented moor; so that our doors were seldom disturbed by the 
knock of the visitor. Now, however, we were troubled by what seemed to be frequent 
tumblings in the night, not only around the doors but around the windows also, upper as well 
as lower. Once we fancied that a large, opaque body darkened the library window when the 
moon was shining against it, and another time we thought we heard a whirring or flapping 
sound not far off. On each occasion investigation revealed nothing, and we began to ascribe 
the occurrences to imagination alone — that same curiously disturbed imagination which still 
prolonged in our ears the faint far baying we thought we had heard in the Holland churchyard. 
The jade amulet now reposed in a niche in our museum, and sometimes we burned strangely 
scented candles before it. We read much in Alhazred's Necronomicon about its properties, 
and about the relation of ghouls' souls to the objects it symbolised; and were disturbed by 
what we read. Then terror came. 

On the night of September 24, 1 9 — , I heard a knock at my chamber door. Fancying it St. 
John's, I bade the knocker enter, but was answered only by a shrill laugh. There was no one 
in the corridor. When I aroused St. John from his sleep, he professed entire ignorance of the 
event, and became as worried as I. It was that night that the faint, distant baying over the 
moor became to us a certain and dreaded reality. Four days later, whilst we were both in the 
hidden museum, there came a low, cautious scratching at the single door which led to the 
secret library staircase. Our alarm was now divided, for besides our fear of the unknown, we 
had always entertained a dread that our grisly collection might be discovered. Extinguishing 
all lights, we proceeded to the door and threw it suddenly open; whereupon we felt an 
unaccountable rush of air, and heard as if receding far away a queer combination of rustling, 
tittering, and articulate chatter. Whether we were mad, dreaming, or in our senses, we did not 
try to determine. We only realised, with the blackest of apprehensions, that the apparently 
disembodied chatter was beyond a doubt in the Dutch language. 

After that we lived in growing horror and fascination. Mostly we held to the theory that we 
were jointly going mad from our life of unnatural excitements, but sometimes it pleased us 
more to dramatise ourselves as the victims of some creeping and appalling doom. Bizarre 
manifestations were now too frequent to count. Our lonely house was seemingly alive with the 

presence of some malign being wliose nature we could not guess, and every night that 
daemonlac baying rolled over the windswept moor, always louder and louder. On October 29 
we found in the soft earth underneath the library window a series of footprints utterly 
impossible to describe. They were as baffling as the hordes of great bats which haunted the 
old manor-house in unprecedented and increasing numbers. 

The horror reached a culmination on November 18, when St. John, walking home after dark 
from the distant railway station, was seized by some frightful carnivorous thing and torn to 
ribbons. His screams had reached the house, and I had hastened to the terrible scene in time 
to hear a whir of wings and see a vague black cloudy thing silhouetted against the rising 
moon. My friend was dying when I spoke to him, and he could not answer coherently. All he 
could do was to whisper, "The amulet — ^that damned thing — ." Then he collapsed, an inert 
mass of mangled flesh. 

I buried him the next midnight in one of our neglected gardens, and mumbled over his body 
one of the devilish rituals he had loved in life. And as I pronounced the last daemoniac 
sentence I heard afar on the moor the faint baying of some gigantic hound. The moon was up, 
but I dared not look at it. And when I saw on the dim-litten moor a wide nebulous shadow 
sweeping from mound to mound, I shut my eyes and threw myself face down upon the 
ground. When I arose trembling, I know not how much later, I staggered into the house and 
made shocking obeisances before the enshrined amulet of green jade. 

Being now afraid to live alone in the ancient house on the moor, I departed on the following 
day for London, taking with me the amulet after destroying by fire and burial the rest of the 
impious collection in the museum. But after three nights I heard the baying again, and before 
a week was over felt strange eyes upon me whenever it was dark. One evening as I strolled 
on Victoria Embankment for some needed air, I saw a black shape obscure one of the 
reflections of the lamps in the water. A wind stronger than the night-wind rushed by, and I 
knew that what had befallen St. John must soon befall me. 

The next day I carefully wrapped the green jade amulet and sailed for Holland. What mercy I 
might gain by returning the thing to its silent, sleeping owner I knew not; but I felt that I must 
at least try any step conceivably logical. What the hound was, and why it pursued me, were 
questions still vague; but I had first heard the baying in that ancient churchyard, and every 
subsequent event including St. John's dying whisper had served to connect the curse with the 
stealing of the amulet. Accordingly I sank into the nethermost abysses of despair when, at an 
inn in Rotterdam, I discovered that thieves had despoiled me of this sole means of salvation. 

The baying was loud that evening, and in the morning I read of a nameless deed in the vilest 
quarter of the city. The rabble were in terror, for upon an evil tenement had fallen a red death 
beyond the foulest previous crime of the neighbourhood. In a squalid thieves' den an entire 
family had been torn to shreds by an unknown thing which left no trace, and those around had 
heard all night above the usual clamour of drunken voices a faint, deep, insistent note as of a 
gigantic hound. 

So at last I stood again in that unwholesome churchyard where a pale winter moon cast 
hideous shadows, and leafless trees drooped sullenly to meet the withered, frosty grass and 
cracking slabs, and the ivied church pointed a jeering finger at the unfriendly sky, and the 
night-wind howled maniacally from over frozen swamps and frigid seas. The baying was very 
faint now, and it ceased altogether as I approached the ancient grave I had once violated, and 
frightened away an abnormally large horde of bats which had been hovering curiously around 

I know not why I went thither unless to pray, or gibber out insane pleas and apologies to the 
calm white thing that lay within; but, whatever my reason, I attacked the half-frozen sod with a 
desperation partly mine and partly that of a dominating will outside myself. Excavation was 
much easier than I expected, though at one point I encountered a queer interruption; when a 
lean vulture darted down out of the cold sky and pecked frantically at the grave-earth until I 
killed him with a blow of my spade. Finally I reached the rotting oblong box and removed the 
damp nitrous cover. This is the last rational act I ever performed. 

For crouched within that centuried coffin, embraced by a close-packed nightmare retinue of 
huge, sinewy, sleeping bats, was the bony thing my friend and I had robbed; not clean and 
placid as we had seen it then, but covered with caked blood and shreds of alien flesh and 
hair, and leering sentiently at me with phosphorescent sockets and sharp ensanguined fangs 
yawning twistedly in mockery of my inevitable doom. And when it gave from those grinning 
jaws a deep, sardonic bay as of some gigantic hound, and I saw that it held in its gory, filthy 
claw the lost and fateful amulet of green jade, I merely screamed and ran away idiotically, my 
screams soon dissolving into peals of hysterical laughter. 

Madness rides the star-wind . . . claws and teeth sharpened on centuries of corpses . . . 
dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats from night-black ruins of buried temples of Belial. 
. . . Now, as the baying of that dead, fleshless monstrosity grows louder and louder, and the 
stealthy whirring and flapping of those accursed web-wings circles closer and closer, I shall 
seek with my revolver the oblivion which is my only refuge from the unnamed and unnamable. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Lurking Fear 


I. The Shadow on the Chimney 

There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest 
Mountain to find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with 
that love of the grotesque and the terrible which has made my career a series of quests for 
strange horrors in literature and in life. With me were two faithful and muscular men for whom 
I had sent when the time came; men long associated with me in my ghastly explorations 
because of their peculiar fitness. 

We had started quietly from the village because of the reporters who still lingered about after 
the eldritch panic of a month before — the nightmare creeping death. Later, I thought, they 
might aid me; but I did not want them then. Would to God I had let them share the search, 
that I might not have had to bear the secret alone so long; to bear it alone for fear the world 
would call me mad or go mad itself at the daemon implications of the thing. Now that I am 
telling it anyway, lest the brooding make me a maniac, I wish I had never concealed it. For I, 
and I only, know what manner of fear lurked on that spectral and desolate mountain. 

In a small motor-car we covered the miles of primeval forest and hill until the wooded ascent 
checked it. The country bore an aspect more than usually sinister as we viewed it by night 
and without the accustomed crowds of investigators, so that we were often tempted to use the 
acetylene headlight despite the attention it might attract. It was not a wholesome landscape 
after dark, and I believe I would have noticed its morbidity even had I been ignorant of the 
terror that stalked there. Of wild creatures there were none — they are wise when death leers 
close. The ancient lightning-scarred trees seemed unnaturally large and twisted, and the 
other vegetation unnaturally thick and feverish, while curious mounds and hummocks in the 
weedy, fulgurite-pitted earth reminded me of snakes and dead men's skulls swelled to gigantic 

Fear had lurked on Tempest Mountain for more than a century. This I learned at once from 
newspaper accounts of the catastrophe which first brought the region to the world's notice. 
The place is a remote, lonely elevation in that part of the Catskills where Dutch civilisation 
once feebly and transiently penetrated, leaving behind as it receded only a few ruined 
mansions and a degenerate squatter population inhabiting pitiful hamlets on isolated slopes. 
Normal beings seldom visited the locality till the state police were formed, and even now only 
infrequent troopers patrol it. The fear, however, is an old tradition throughout the neighbouring 
villages; since it is a prime topic in the simple discourse of the poor mongrels who sometimes 
leave their valleys to trade hand-woven baskets for such primitive necessities as they cannot 
shoot, raise, or make. 

The lurking fear dwelt in the shunned and deserted Martense mansion, which crowned the 
high but gradual eminence whose liability to frequent thunderstorms gave it the name of 
Tempest Mountain. For over a hundred years the antique, grove-circled stone house had 
been the subject of stories incredibly wild and monstrously hideous; stories of a silent colossal 
creeping death which stalked abroad in summer. With whimpering insistence the squatters 
told tales of a daemon which seized lone wayfarers after dark, either carrying them off or 
leaving them in a frightful state of gnawed dismemberment; while sometimes they whispered 

of blood-trails toward the distant mansion. Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of 
its habitation, while others said the thunder was its voice. 

No one outside the backwoods had believed these varying and conflicting stories, with their 
incoherent, extravagant descriptions of the half-glimpsed fiend; yet not a farmer or villager 
doubted that the Martense mansion was ghoulishly haunted. Local history forbade such a 
doubt, although no ghostly evidence was ever found by such investigators as had visited the 
building after some especially vivid tale of the squatters. Grandmothers told strange myths of 
the Martense spectre; myths concerning the Martense family itself, its queer hereditary 
dissimilarity of eyes, its long, unnatural annals, and the murder which had cursed it. 

The terror which brought me to the scene was a sudden and portentous confirmation of the 
mountaineers' wildest legends. One summer night, after a thunderstorm of unprecedented 
violence, the countryside was aroused by a squatter stampede which no mere delusion could 
create. The pitiful throngs of natives shrieked and whined of the unnamable horror which had 
descended upon them, and they were not doubted. They had not seen it, but had heard such 
cries from one of their hamlets that they knew a creeping death had come. 

In the morning citizens and state troopers followed the shuddering mountaineers to the place 
where they said the death had come. Death was indeed there. The ground under one of the 
squatters' villages had caved in after a lightning stroke, destroying several of the malodorous 
shanties; but upon this property damage was superimposed an organic devastation which 
paled it to insignificance. Of a possible 75 natives who had inhabited this spot, not one living 
specimen was visible. The disordered earth was covered with blood and human debris 
bespeaking too vividly the ravages of daemon teeth and talons; yet no visible trail led away 
from the carnage. That some hideous animal must be the cause, everyone quickly agreed; 
nor did any tongue now revive the charge that such cryptic deaths formed merely the sordid 
murders common in decadent communities. That charge was revived only when about 25 of 
the estimated population were found missing from the dead; and even then it was hard to 
explain the murder of fifty by half that number. But the fact remained that on a summer night a 
bolt had come out of the heavens and left a dead village whose corpses were horribly 
mangled, chewed, and clawed. 

The excited countryside immediately connected the horror with the haunted Martense 
mansion, though the localities were over three miles apart. The troopers were more sceptical; 
including the mansion only casually in their investigations, and dropping it altogether when 
they found it thoroughly deserted. Country and village people, however, canvassed the place 
with infinite care; overturning everything in the house, sounding ponds and brooks, beating 
down bushes, and ransacking the nearby forests. All was in vain; the death that had come 
had left no trace save destruction itself. 

By the second day of the search the affair was fully treated by the newspapers, whose 
reporters overran Tempest Mountain. They described it in much detail, and with many 
interviews to elucidate the horror's history as told by local grandams. I followed the accounts 
languidly at first, for I am a connoisseur in horrors; but after a week I detected an atmosphere 
which stirred me oddly, so that on August 5th, 1921 , I registered among the reporters who 
crowded the hotel at Lefferts Corners, nearest village to Tempest Mountain and 
acknowledged headquarters of the searchers. Three weeks more, and the dispersal of the 
reporters left me free to begin a terrible exploration based on the minute inquiries and 
surveying with which I had meanwhile busied myself. 

So on this summer night, while distant thunder rumbled, I left a silent motor-car and tramped 
with two armed companions up the last mound-covered reaches of Tempest Mountain, 
casting the beams of an electric torch on the spectral grey walls that began to appear through 
giant oaks ahead. In this morbid night solitude and feeble shifting illumination, the vast box- 
like pile displayed obscure hints of terror which day could not uncover; yet I did not hesitate, 
since I had come with fierce resolution to test an idea. I believed that the thunder called the 
death-daemon out of some fearsome secret place; and be that daemon solid entity or 
vaporous pestilence, I meant to see it. 

I had thoroughly searched the ruin before, hence knew my plan well; choosing as the seat of 
my vigil the old room of Jan Martense, whose murder looms so great in the rural legends. I 
felt subtly that the apartment of this ancient victim was best for my purposes. The chamber, 
measuring about twenty feet square, contained like the other rooms some rubbish which had 
once been furniture. It lay on the second story, on the southeast corner of the house, and had 
an immense east window and narrow south window, both devoid of panes or shutters. 
Opposite the large window was an enormous Dutch fireplace with scriptural tiles representing 
the prodigal son, and opposite the narrow window was a spacious bed built into the wall. 

As the tree-muffled thunder grew louder, I arranged my plan's details. First I fastened side by 
side to the ledge of the large window three rope ladders which I had brought with me. I knew 
they reached a suitable spot on the grass outside, for I had tested them. Then the three of us 
dragged from another room a wide four-poster bedstead, crowding it laterally against the 
window. Having strown it with fir boughs, all now rested on it with drawn automatics, two 
relaxing while the third watched. From whatever direction the daemon might come, our 
potential escape was provided. If it came from within the house, we had the window ladders; if 
from outside, the door and the stairs. We did not think, judging from precedent, that it would 
pursue us far even at worst. 

I watched from midnight to one o'clock, when in spite of the sinister house, the unprotected 
window, and the approaching thunder and lightning, I felt singularly drowsy. I was between my 
two companions, George Bennett being toward the window and William Tobey toward the 
fireplace. Bennett was asleep, having apparently felt the same anomalous drowsiness which 
affected me, so I designated Tobey for the next watch although even he was nodding. It is 
curious how intently I had been watching that fireplace. 

The increasing thunder must have affected my dreams, for in the brief time I slept there came 
to me apocalyptic visions. Once I partly awaked, probably because the sleeper toward the 
window had restlessly flung an arm across my chest. I was not sufficiently awake to see 
whether Tobey was attending to his duties as sentinel, but felt a distinct anxiety on that score. 
Never before had the presence of evil so poignantly oppressed me. Later I must have 
dropped asleep again, for it was out of a phantasmal chaos that my mind leaped when the 
night grew hideous with shrieks beyond anything in my former experience or imagination. 

In that shrieking the inmost soul of human fear and agony clawed hopelessly and insanely at 
the ebony gates of oblivion. I awoke to red madness and the mockery of diabolism, as farther 
and farther down inconceivable vistas that phobic and crystalline anguish retreated and 
reverberated. There was no light, but I knew from the empty space at my right that Tobey was 
gone, God alone knew whither. Across my chest still lay the heavy arm of the sleeper at my 

Then came the devastating stroke of lightning which shook the whole mountain, lit the darkest 
crypts of the hoary grove, and splintered the patriarch of the twisted trees. In the daemon 

flash of a monstrous fireball the sleeper started up suddenly while the glare from beyond the 
window threw his shadow vividly upon the chimney above the fireplace from which my eyes 
had never strayed. That I am still alive and sane, is a marvel I cannot fathom. I cannot fathom 
it, for the shadow on that chimney was not that of George Bennett or of any other human 
creature, but a blasphemous abnormality from hell's nethermost craters; a nameless, 
shapeless abomination which no mind could fully grasp and no pen even partly describe. In 
another second I was alone in the accursed mansion, shivering and gibbering. George 
Bennett and William Tobey had left no trace, not even of a struggle. They were never heard of 

II. A Passer in the Storm 

For days after that hideous experience in the forest-swathed mansion I lay nervously 
exhausted in my hotel room at Lefferts Corners. I do not remember exactly how I managed to 
reach the motor-car, start it, and slip unobserved back to the village; for I retain no distinct 
impression save of wild-armed titan trees, daemoniac mutterings of thunder, and Charonian 
shadows athwart the low mounds that dotted and streal^ed the region. 

As I shivered and brooded on the casting of that brain-blasting shadow, I l^new that I had at 
last pried out one of earth's supreme horrors — one of those nameless blights of outer voids 
whose faint daemon scratchings we sometimes hear on the farthest rim of space, yet from 
which our own finite vision has given us a merciful immunity. The shadow I had seen, I hardly 
dared to analyse or identify. Something had lain between me and the window that night, but I 
shuddered whenever I could not cast off the instinct to classify it. If it had only snarled, or 
bayed, or laughed titteringly — even that would have relieved the abysmal hideousness. But it 
was so silent. It had rested a heavy arm or fore leg on my chest. . . . Obviously it was organic, 
or had once been organic. . . . Jan IVIartense, whose room I had invaded, was buried in the 
graveyard near the mansion. ... I must find Bennett and Tobey, if they lived . . . why had it 
picl<ed them, and left me for the last? . . . Drowsiness is so stifling, and dreams are so 
horrible. . . . 

In a short time I realised that I must tell my story to someone or break down completely. I had 
already decided not to abandon the quest for the lurking fear, for in my rash ignorance it 
seemed to me that uncertainty was worse than enlightenment, however terrible the latter 
might prove to be. Accordingly I resolved in my mind the best course to pursue; whom to 
select for my confidences, and how to track down the thing which had obliterated two men 
and cast a nightmare shadow. 

My chief acquaintances at Lefferts Corners had been the affable reporters, of whom several 
still remained to collect final echoes of the tragedy. It was from these that I determined to 
choose a colleague, and the more I reflected the more my preference inclined toward one 
Arthur IVIunroe, a dark, lean man of about thirty-five, whose education, taste, intelligence, and 
temperament all seemed to mark him as one not bound to conventional ideas and 

On an afternoon in early September Arthur IVIunroe listened to my story. I saw from the 
beginning that he was both interested and sympathetic, and when I had finished he analysed 
and discussed the thing with the greatest shrewdness and judgment. His advice, moreover, 
was eminently practical; for he recommended a postponement of operations at the Martense 
mansion until we might become fortified with more detailed historical and geographical data. 
On his initiative we combed the countryside for information regarding the terrible IVIartense 
family, and discovered a man who possessed a marvellously illuminating ancestral diary. We 

also talked at length with such of the mountain mongrels as had not fled from the terror and 

confusion to remoter slopes, and arranged to precede our culminating task — the exhaustive 
and definitive examination of the mansion in the light of its detailed history — with an equally 
exhaustive and definitive examination of spots associated with the various tragedies of 
squatter legend. 

The results of this examination were not at first very enlightening, though our tabulation of 
them seemed to reveal a fairly significant trend; namely, that the number of reported horrors 
was by far the greatest in areas either comparatively near the avoided house or connected 
with it by stretches of the morbidly overnourished forest. There were, it is true, exceptions; 
indeed, the horror which had caught the world's ear had happened in a treeless space remote 
alike from the mansion and from any connecting woods. 

As to the nature and appearance of the lurking fear, nothing could be gained from the scared 
and witless shanty-dwellers. In the same breath they called it a snake and a giant, a thunder- 
devil and a bat, a vulture and a walking tree. We did, however, deem ourselves justified in 
assuming that it was a living organism highly susceptible to electrical storms; and although 
certain of the stories suggested wings, we believed that its aversion for open spaces made 
land locomotion a more probable theory. The only thing really incompatible with the latter view 
was the rapidity with which the creature must have travelled in order to perform all the deeds 
attributed to it. 

When we came to know the squatters better, we found them curiously likeable in many ways. 
Simple animals they were, gently descending the evolutionary scale because of their 
unfortunate ancestry and stultifying isolation. They feared outsiders, but slowly grew 
accustomed to us; finally helping vastly when we beat down all the thickets and tore out all 
the partitions of the mansion in our search for the lurking fear. When we asked them to help 
us find Bennett and Tobey they were truly distressed; for they wanted to help us, yet knew 
that these victims had gone as wholly out of the world as their own missing people. That great 
numbers of them had actually been killed and removed, just as the wild animals had long 
been exterminated, we were of course thoroughly convinced; and we waited apprehensively 
for further tragedies to occur. 

By the middle of October we were puzzled by our lack of progress. Owing to the clear nights 
no daemoniac aggressions had taken place, and the completeness of our vain searches of 
house and country almost drove us to regard the lurking fear as a non-material agency. We 
feared that the cold weather would come on and halt our explorations, for all agreed that the 
daemon was generally quiet in winter. Thus there was a kind of haste and desperation in our 
last daylight canvass of the horror-visited hamlet; a hamlet now deserted because of the 
squatters' fears. 

The ill-fated squatter hamlet had borne no name, but had long stood in a sheltered though 
treeless cleft between two elevations called respectively Cone Mountain and Maple Hill. It was 
closer to Maple Hill than to Cone Mountain, some of the crude abodes indeed being dugouts 
on the side of the former eminence. Geographically it lay about two miles northwest of the 
base of Tempest Mountain, and three miles from the oak-girt mansion. Of the distance 
between the hamlet and the mansion, fully two miles and a quarter on the hamlet's side was 
entirely open country; the plain being of fairly level character save for some of the low snake- 
like mounds, and having as vegetation only grass and scattered weeds. Considering this 
topography, we had finally concluded that the daemon must have come by way of Cone 
Mountain, a wooded southern prolongation of which ran to within a short distance of the 
westernmost spur of Tempest Mountain. The upheaval of ground we traced conclusively to a 

landslide from Maple Hill, a tall lone splintered tree on whose side had been the striking point 
of the thunderbolt which summoned the fiend. 

As for the twentieth time or more Arthur Munroe and I went minutely over every inch of the 
violated village, we were filled with a certain discouragement coupled with vague and novel 
fears. It was acutely uncanny, even when frightful and uncanny things were common, to 
encounter so blankly clueless a scene after such overwhelming occurrences; and we moved 
about beneath the leaden, darkening sky with that tragic directionless zeal which results from 
a combined sense of futility and necessity of action. Our care was gravely minute; every 
cottage was again entered, every hillside dugout again searched for bodies, every thorny foot 
of adjacent slope again scanned for dens and caves, but all without result. And yet, as I have 
said, vague new fears hovered menacingly over us; as if giant bat-winged gryphons squatted 
invisibly on the mountain-tops and leered with Abaddon-eyes that had looked on trans-cosmic 

As the afternoon advanced, it became increasingly difficult to see; and we heard the rumble of 
a thunderstorm gathering over Tempest iVIountain. This sound in such a locality naturally 
stirred us, though less than it would have done at night. As it was, we hoped desperately that 
the storm would last until well after dark; and with that hope turned from our aimless hillside 
searching toward the nearest inhabited hamlet to gather a body of squatters as helpers in the 
investigation. Timid as they were, a few of the younger men were sufficiently inspired by our 
protective leadership to promise such help. 

We had hardly more than turned, however, when there descended such a blinding sheet of 
torrential rain that shelter became imperative. The extreme, almost nocturnal darkness of the 
sky caused us to stumble sadly, but guided by the frequent flashes of lightning and by our 
minute knowledge of the hamlet we soon reached the least porous cabin of the lot; an 
heterogeneous combination of logs and boards whose still existing door and single tiny 
window both faced Maple Hill. Barring the door after us against the fury of the wind and rain, 
we put in place the crude window shutter which our frequent searches had taught us where to 
find. It was dismal sitting there on rickety boxes in the pitchy darkness, but we smoked pipes 
and occasionally flashed our pocket lamps about. Now and then we could see the lightning 
through the cracks in the wall; the afternoon was so incredibly dark that each flash was 
extremely vivid. 

The stormy vigil reminded me shudderingly of my ghastly night on Tempest Mountain. My 
mind turned to that odd question which had kept recurring ever since the nightmare thing had 
happened; and again I wondered why the daemon, approaching the three watchers either 
from the window or the interior, had begun with the men on each side and left the middle man 
till the last, when the titan fireball had scared it away. Why had it not taken its victims in 
natural order, with myself second, from whichever direction it had approached? With what 
manner of far-reaching tentacles did it prey? Or did it know that I was the leader, and save me 
for a fate worse than that of my companions? 

In the midst of these reflections, as if dramatically arranged to intensify them, there fell near 
by a terrific bolt of lightning followed by the sound of sliding earth. At the same time the 
wolfish wind rose to daemoniac crescendoes of ululation. We were sure that the lone tree on 
Maple Hill had been struck again, and Munroe rose from his box and went to the tiny window 
to ascertain the damage. When he took down the shutter the wind and rain howled 
deafeningly in, so that I could not hear what he said; but I waited while he leaned out and tried 
to fathom Nature's pandemonium. 

Gradually a calming of the wind and dispersal of the unusual darkness told of the storm's 
passing. I had hoped It would last into the night to help our quest, but a furtive sunbeam from 
a knothole behind me removed the likelihood of such a thing. Suggesting to Munroe that we 
had better get some light even if more showers came, I unbarred and opened the crude door. 
The ground outside was a singular mass of mud and pools, with fresh heaps of earth from the 
slight landslide; but I saw nothing to justify the interest which kept my companion silently 
leaning out the window. Crossing to where he leaned, I touched his shoulder; but he did not 
move. Then, as I playfully shook him and turned him around, I felt the strangling tendrils of a 
cancerous horror whose roots reached into illimitable pasts and fathomless abysms of the 
night that broods beyond time. 

For Arthur Munroe was dead. And on what remained of his chewed and gouged head there 
was no longer a face. 

III. What the Red Glare Meant 

On the tempest-racked night of November 8, 1921 , with a lantern which cast charnel 
shadows, I stood digging alone and idiotically in the grave of Jan Martense. I had begun to dig 
in the afternoon, because a thunderstorm was brewing, and now that it was dark and the 
storm had burst above the maniacally thick foliage I was glad. 

I believe that my mind was partly unhinged by events since August 5th; the daemon shadow 
in the mansion, the general strain and disappointment, and the thing that occurred at the 
hamlet in an October storm. After that thing I had dug a grave for one whose death I could not 
understand. I knew that others could not understand either, so let them think Arthur Munroe 
had wandered away. They searched, but found nothing. The squatters might have 
understood, but I dared not frighten them more. I myself seemed strangely callous. That 
shock at the mansion had done something to my brain, and I could think only of the quest for 
a horror now grown to cataclysmic stature In my Imagination; a quest which the fate of Arthur 
Munroe made me vow to keep silent and solitary. 

The scene of my excavations would alone have been enough to unnerve any ordinary man. 
Baleful primal trees of unholy size, age, and grotesqueness leered above me like the pillars of 
some hellish Druidic temple; muffling the thunder, hushing the clawing wind, and admitting but 
little rain. Beyond the scarred trunks in the background, illumined by faint flashes of filtered 
lightning, rose the damp ivied stones of the deserted mansion, while somewhat nearer was 
the abandoned Dutch garden whose walks and beds were polluted by a white, fungous, 
foetid, overnourished vegetation that never saw full daylight. And nearest of all was the 
graveyard, where deformed trees tossed insane branches as their roots displaced unhallowed 
slabs and sucked venom from what lay below. Now and then, beneath the brown pall of 
leaves that rotted and festered In the antediluvian forest darkness, I could trace the sinister 
outlines of some of those low mounds which characterised the lightning-pierced region. 

History had led me to this archaic grave. History, indeed, was all I had after everything else 
ended in mocking Satanism. I now believed that the lurking fear was no material thing, but a 
wolf-fanged ghost that rode the midnight lightning. And I believed, because of the masses of 
local tradition I had unearthed in my search with Arthur Munroe, that the ghost was that of Jan 
Martense, who died In 1762. That is why I was digging idiotically In his grave. 

The Martense mansion was built in 1670 by Gerrit Martense, a wealthy New-Amsterdam 
merchant who disliked the changing order under British rule, and had constructed this 
magnificent domicile on a remote woodland summit whose untrodden solitude and unusual 
scenery pleased him. The only substantial disappointment encountered in this site was that 

which concerned the prevalence of violent thunderstorms in summer. When selecting the hill 
and building his mansion, Mynheer Martense had laid these frequent natural outbursts to 
some peculiarity of the year; but in time he perceived that the locality was especially liable to 
such phenomena. At length, having found these storms injurious to his health, he fitted up a 
cellar into which he could retreat from their wildest pandemonium. 

Of Gerrit Martense's descendants less is known than of himself; since they were all reared in 
hatred of the English civilisation, and trained to shun such of the colonists as accepted it. 
Their life was exceedingly secluded, and people declared that their isolation had made them 
heavy of speech and comprehension. In appearance all were marl^ed by a peculiar inherited 
dissimilarity of eyes; one generally being blue and the other brown. Their social contacts grew 
fewer and fewer, till at last they took to intermarrying with the numerous menial class about 
the estate. IVIany of the crowded family degenerated, moved across the valley, and merged 
with the mongrel population which was later to produce the pitiful squatters. The rest had 
stuck sullenly to their ancestral mansion, becoming more and more clannish and taciturn, yet 
developing a nervous responsiveness to the frequent thunderstorms. 

Most of this information reached the outside world through young Jan Martense, who from 
some kind of restlessness joined the colonial army when news of the Albany Convention 
reached Tempest Mountain. He was the first of Gerrit's descendants to see much of the world; 
and when he returned in 1 760 after six years of campaigning, he was hated as an outsider by 
his father, uncles, and brothers, in spite of his dissimilar Martense eyes. No longer could he 
share the peculiarities and prejudices of the Martenses, while the very mountain 
thunderstorms failed to intoxicate him as they had before. Instead, his surroundings 
depressed him; and he frequently wrote to a friend in Albany of plans to leave the paternal 

In the spring of 1763 Jonathan Gifford, the Albany friend of Jan Martense, became worried by 
his correspondent's silence; especially in view of the conditions and quarrels at the Martense 
mansion. Determined to visit Jan in person, he went into the mountains on horseback. His 
diary states that he reached Tempest Mountain on September 20, finding the mansion in great 
decrepitude. The sullen, odd-eyed Martenses, whose unclean animal aspect shocked him, 
told him in broken gutturals that Jan was dead. He had, they insisted, been struck by lightning 
the autumn before; and now lay buried behind the neglected sunken gardens. They shewed 
the visitor the grave, barren and devoid of markers. Something in the Martenses' manner 
gave Gifford a feeling of repulsion and suspicion, and a week later he returned with spade 
and mattock to explore the sepulchral spot. He found what he expected — a skull crushed 
cruelly as if by savage blows — so returning to Albany he openly charged the Martenses with 
the murder of their kinsman. 

Legal evidence was lacking, but the story spread rapidly round the countryside; and from that 
time the Martenses were ostracised by the world. No one would deal with them, and their 
distant manor was shunned as an accursed place. Somehow they managed to live on 
independently by the products of their estate, for occasional lights glimpsed from far-away 
hills attested their continued presence. These lights were seen as late as 1810, but toward the 
last they became very infrequent. 

Meanwhile there grew up about the mansion and the mountain a body of diabolic legendry. 
The place was avoided with doubled assiduousness, and invested with every whispered myth 
tradition could supply. It remained unvisited till 1816, when the continued absence of lights 
was noticed by the squatters. At that time a party made investigations, finding the house 
deserted and partly in ruins. 

There were no skeletons about, so that departure rather than death was inferred. The clan 
seemed to have left several years before, and improvised penthouses shewed how numerous 
it had grown prior to its migration. Its cultural level had fallen very low, as proved by decaying 
furniture and scattered silverware which must have been long abandoned when its owners 
left. But though the dreaded Martenses were gone, the fear of the haunted house continued; 
and grew very acute when new and strange stories arose among the mountain decadents. 
There it stood; deserted, feared, and linked with the vengeful ghost of Jan Martense. There it 
still stood on the night I dug in Jan IVIartense's grave. 

I have described my protracted digging as idiotic, and such it indeed was in object and 
method. The coffin of Jan Martense had soon been unearthed — it now held only dust and 
nitre — but in my fury to exhume his ghost I delved irrationally and clumsily down beneath 
where he had lain. God knows what I expected to find — I only felt that I was digging in the 
grave of a man whose ghost stalked by night. 

It is impossible to say what monstrous depth I had attained when my spade, and soon my 
feet, broke through the ground beneath. The event, under the circumstances, was 
tremendous; for in the existence of a subterranean space here, my mad theories had terrible 
confirmation. IVIy slight fall had extinguished the lantern, but I produced an electric pocket 
lamp and viewed the small horizontal tunnel which led away indefinitely in both directions. It 
was amply large enough for a man to wriggle through; and though no sane person would 
have tried it at that time, I forgot danger, reason, and cleanliness in my single-minded fever to 
unearth the lurking fear. Choosing the direction toward the house, I scrambled recklessly into 
the narrow burrow; squirming ahead blindly and rapidly, and flashing but seldom the lamp I 
kept before me. 

What language can describe the spectacle of a man lost in infinitely abysmal earth; pawing, 
twisting, wheezing; scrambling madly through sunken convolutions of immemorial blackness 
without an idea of time, safety, direction, or definite object? There is something hideous in it, 
but that is what I did. I did it for so long that life faded to a far memory, and I became one with 
the moles and grubs of nighted depths. Indeed, it was only by accident that after interminable 
writhings I jarred my forgotten electric lamp alight, so that it shone eerily along the burrow of 
caked loam that stretched and curved ahead. 

I had been scrambling in this way for some time, so that my battery had burned very low, 
when the passage suddenly inclined sharply upward, altering my mode of progress. And as I 
raised my glance it was without preparation that I saw glistening in the distance two 
daemoniac reflections of my expiring lamp; two reflections glowing with a baneful and 
unmistakable effulgence, and provoking maddeningly nebulous memories. I stopped 
automatically, though lacking the brain to retreat. The eyes approached, yet of the thing that 
bore them I could distinguish only a claw. But what a claw! Then far overhead I heard a faint 
crashing which I recognised. It was the wild thunder of the mountain, raised to hysteric fury — I 
must have been crawling upward for some time, so that the surface was now quite near. And 
as the muffled thunder clattered, those eyes still stared with vacuous viciousness. 

Thank God I did not then know what it was, else I should have died. But I was saved by the 
very thunder that had summoned it, for after a hideous wait there burst from the unseen 
outside sky one of those frequent mountainward bolts whose aftermath I had noticed here and 
there as gashes of disturbed earth and fulgurites of various sizes. With Cyclopean rage it tore 
through the soil above that damnable pit, blinding and deafening me, yet not wholly reducing 
me to a coma. 

In the chaos of sliding, shifting earth I clawed and floundered helplessly till the rain on my 
head steadied me and I saw that I had come to the surface in a familiar spot; a steep 
unforested place on the southwest slope of the mountain. Recurrent sheet lightnings illumed 
the tumbled ground and the remains of the curious low hummock which had stretched down 
from the wooded higher slope, but there was nothing in the chaos to shew my place of egress 
from the lethal catacomb. IVIy brain was as great a chaos as the earth, and as a distant red 
glare burst on the landscape from the south I hardly realised the horror I had been through. 

But when two days later the squatters told me what the red glare meant, I felt more horror 
than that which the mould-burrow and the claw and eyes had given; more horror because of 
the overwhelming implications. In a hamlet twenty miles away an orgy of fear had followed the 
bolt which brought me above ground, and a nameless thing had dropped from an 
overhanging tree into a weak-roofed cabin. It had done a deed, but the squatters had fired the 
cabin in frenzy before it could escape. It had been doing that deed at the very moment the 
earth caved in on the thing with the claw and eyes. 

IV. The Horror in the Eyes 

There can be nothing normal in the mind of one who, knowing what I knew of the horrors of 
Tempest Mountain, would seek alone for the fear that lurked there. That at least two of the 
fear's embodiments were destroyed, formed but a slight guarantee of mental and physical 
safety in this Acheron of multiform diabolism; yet I continued my quest with even greater zeal 
as events and revelations became more monstrous. 

When, two days after my frightful crawl through that crypt of the eyes and claw, I learned that 
a thing had malignly hovered twenty miles away at the same instant the eyes were glaring at 
me, I experienced virtual convulsions of fright. But that fright was so mixed with wonder and 
alluring grotesqueness, that it was almost a pleasant sensation. Sometimes, in the throes of a 
nightmare when unseen powers whirl one over the roofs of strange dead cities toward the 
grinning chasm of Nis, it is a relief and even a delight to shriek wildly and throw oneself 
voluntarily along with the hideous vortex of dream-doom into whatever bottomless gulf may 
yawn. And so it was with the waking nightmare of Tempest Mountain; the discovery that two 
monsters had haunted the spot gave me ultimately a mad craving to plunge into the very 
earth of the accursed region, and with bare hands dig out the death that leered from every 
inch of the poisonous soil. 

As soon as possible I visited the grave of Jan Martense and dug vainly where I had dug 
before. Some extensive cave-in had obliterated all trace of the underground passage, while 
the rain had washed so much earth back into the excavation that I could not tell how deeply I 
had dug that other day. I likewise made a difficult trip to the distant hamlet where the death- 
creature had been burnt, and was little repaid for my trouble. In the ashes of the fateful cabin I 
found several bones, but apparently none of the monster's. The squatters said the thing had 
had only one victim; but in this I judged them inaccurate, since besides the complete skull of a 
human being, there was another bony fragment which seemed certainly to have belonged to 
a human skull at some time. Though the rapid drop of the monster had been seen, no one 
could say just what the creature was like; those who had glimpsed it called it simply a devil. 
Examining the great tree where it had lurked, I could discern no distinctive marks. I tried to 
find some trail into the black forest, but on this occasion could not stand the sight of those 
morbidly large boles, or of those vast serpent-like roots that twisted so malevolently before 
they sank into the earth. 

My next step was to re-examine with microscopic care tine deserted liamlet wliere deatli liad 
come most abundantly, and where Arthur Munroe had seen something he never lived to 
describe. Though my vain previous searches had been exceedingly minute, I now had new 
data to test; for my horrible grave-crawl convinced me that at least one of the phases of the 
monstrosity had been an underground creature. This time, on the fourteenth of November, my 
quest concerned Itself mostly with the slopes of Cone Mountain and Maple Hill where they 
overlook the unfortunate hamlet, and I gave particular attention to the loose earth of the 
landslide region on the latter eminence. 

The afternoon of my search brought nothing to light, and dusk came as I stood on Maple Hill 
looking down at the hamlet and across the valley to Tempest Mountain. There had been a 
gorgeous sunset, and now the moon came up, nearly full and shedding a silver flood over the 
plain, the distant mountainside, and the curious low mounds that rose here and there. It was a 
peaceful Arcadian scene, but knowing what it hid I hated it. I hated the mocking moon, the 
hypocritical plain, the festering mountain, and those sinister mounds. Everything seemed to 
me tainted with a loathsome contagion, and inspired by a noxious alliance with distorted 
hidden powers. 

Presently, as I gazed abstractedly at the moonlit panorama, my eye became attracted by 
something singular in the nature and arrangement of a certain topographical element. Without 
having any exact knowledge of geology, I had from the first been interested in the odd 
mounds and hummocks of the region. I had noticed that they were pretty widely distributed 
around Tempest Mountain, though less numerous on the plain than near the hill-top itself, 
where prehistoric glaciation had doubtless found feebler opposition to its striking and fantastic 
caprices. Now, in the light of that low moon which cast long weird shadows, it struck me 
forcibly that the various points and lines of the mound system had a peculiar relation to the 
summit of Tempest Mountain. That summit was undeniably a centre from which the lines or 
rows of points radiated indefinitely and irregularly, as if the unwholesome Martense mansion 
had thrown visible tentacles of terror. The idea of such tentacles gave me an unexplained 
thrill, and I stopped to analyse my reason for believing these mounds glacial phenomena. 

The more I analysed the less I believed, and against my newly opened mind there began to 
beat grotesque and horrible analogies based on superficial aspects and upon my experience 
beneath the earth. Before I knew it I was uttering frenzied and disjointed words to myself: "My 
God! . . . Molehills ... the damned place must be honeycombed . . . how many . . . that night 
at the mansion . . . they took Bennett and Tobey first ... on each side of us. . . ." Then i was 
digging frantically into the mound which had stretched nearest me; digging desperately, 
shiveringly, but almost jubilantly; digging and at last shrieking aloud with some unplaced 
emotion as I came upon a tunnel or burrow just like the one through which I had crawled on 
that other daemoniac night. 

After that I recall running, spade in hand; a hideous run across moon-litten, mound-marked 
meadows and through diseased, precipitous abysses of haunted hillside forest; leaping, 
screaming, panting, bounding toward the terrible Martense mansion. I recall digging 
unreasoningly in all parts of the brier-choked cellar; digging to find the core and centre of that 
malignant universe of mounds. And then I recall how I laughed when I stumbled on the 
passageway; the hole at the base of the old chimney, where the thick weeds grew and cast 
queer shadows in the light of the lone candle I had happened to have with me. What still 
remained down in that hell-hive, lurking and waiting for the thunder to arouse it, I did not 
know. Two had been killed; perhaps that had finished it. But still there remained that burning 

determination to reacli tine innermost secret of tlie fear, wliicli I liad once more come to deem 
definite, material, and organic. 

My indecisive speculation whether to explore the passage alone and immediately with my 
pocket-light or to try to assemble a band of squatters for the quest, was interrupted after a 
time by a sudden rush of wind from outside which blew out the candle and left me in stark 
blackness. The moon no longer shone through the chinks and apertures above me, and with 
a sense of fateful alarm I heard the sinister and significant rumble of approaching thunder. A 
confusion of associated ideas possessed my brain, leading me to grope back toward the 
farthest corner of the cellar. IVIy eyes, however, never turned away from the horrible opening 
at the base of the chimney; and I began to get glimpses of the crumbling bricks and unhealthy 
weeds as faint glows of lightning penetrated the woods outside and illumined the chinks in the 
upper wall. Every second I was consumed with a mixture of fear and curiosity. What would the 
storm call forth — or was there anything left for it to call? Guided by a lightning flash I settled 
myself down behind a dense clump of vegetation, through which I could see the opening 
without being seen. 

If heaven is merciful, it will some day efface from my consciousness the sight that I saw, and 
let me live my last years in peace. I cannot sleep at night now, and have to take opiates when 
it thunders. The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a daemon, rat-like scurrying from pits 
remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from that opening 
beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life — a loathsome night-spawned 
flood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of 
mortal madness and morbidity. Seething, stewing, surging, bubbling like serpents' slime it 
rolled up and out of that yawning hole, spreading like a septic contagion and streaming from 
the cellar at every point of egress — streaming out to scatter through the accursed midnight 
forests and strew fear, madness, and death. 

God knows how many there were — ^there must have been thousands. To see the stream of 
them in that faint, intermittent lightning was shocking. When they had thinned out enough to 
be glimpsed as separate organisms, I saw that they were dwarfed, deformed hairy devils or 
apes — monstrous and diabolic caricatures of the monkey tribe. They were so hideously silent; 
there was hardly a squeal when one of the last stragglers turned with the skill of long practice 
to make a meal in accustomed fashion on a weaker companion. Others snapped up what it 
left and ate with slavering relish. Then, in spite of my daze of fright and disgust, my morbid 
curiosity triumphed; and as the last of the monstrosities oozed up alone from that nether world 
of unknown nightmare, I drew my automatic pistol and shot it under cover of the thunder. 

Shrieking, slithering, torrential shadows of red viscous madness chasing one another through 
endless, ensanguined corridors of purple fulgurous sky . . . formless phantasms and 
kaleidoscopic mutations of a ghoulish, remembered scene; forests of monstrous 
overnourished oaks with serpent roots twisting and sucking unnamable juices from an earth 
verminous with millions of cannibal devils; mound-like tentacles groping from underground 
nuclei of polypous perversion . . . insane lightning over malignant ivied walls and daemon 
arcades choked with fungous vegetation. . . . Heaven be thanked for the instinct which led me 
unconscious to places where men dwell; to the peaceful village that slept under the calm stars 
of clearing skies. 

I had recovered enough in a week to send to Albany for a gang of men to blow up the 
Martense mansion and the entire top of Tempest Mountain with dynamite, stop up all the 
discoverable mound-burrows, and destroy certain overnourished trees whose very existence 
seemed an insult to sanity. I could sleep a little after they had done this, but true rest will 

never come as long as I remember that nameless secret of the lurking fear. The thing will 
haunt me, for who can say the extermination is complete, and that analogous phenomena do 
not exist all over the world? Who can, with my knowledge, think of the earth's unknown 
caverns without a nightmare dread of future possibilities? I cannot see a well or a subway 
entrance without shuddering . . . why cannot the doctors give me something to make me 
sleep, or truly calm my brain when it thunders? 

What I saw in the glow of my flashlight after I shot the unspeakable straggling object was so 
simple that almost a minute elapsed before I understood and went delirious. The object was 
nauseous; a filthy whitish gorilla thing with sharp yellow fangs and matted fur. It was the 
ultimate product of mammalian degeneration; the frightful outcome of isolated spawning, 
multiplication, and cannibal nutrition above and below the ground; the embodiment of all the 
snarling chaos and grinning fear that lurk behind life. It had looked at me as it died, and its 
eyes had the same odd quality that marked those other eyes which had stared at me 
underground and excited cloudy recollections. One eye was blue, the other brown. They were 
the dissimilar Martense eyes of the old legends, and I knew in one inundating cataclysm of 
voiceless horror what had become of that vanished family; the terrible and thunder-crazed 
house of Martense. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Rats in the Walls 


On July 16, 1923, I moved into Exham Priory after the last workman had finished his labours. 
The restoration had been a stupendous task, for little had remained of the deserted pile but a 
shell-like ruin; yet because it had been the seat of my ancestors I let no expense deter me. 
The place had not been Inhabited since the reign of James the First, when a tragedy of 
intensely hideous, though largely unexplained, nature had struck down the master, five of his 
children, and several servants; and driven forth under a cloud of suspicion and terror the third 
son, my lineal progenitor and the only survivor of the abhorred line. With this sole heir 
denounced as a murderer, the estate had reverted to the crown, nor had the accused man 
made any attempt to exculpate himself or regain his property. Shaken by some horror greater 
than that of conscience or the law, and expressing only a frantic wish to exclude the ancient 
edifice from his sight and memory, Walter de la Poer, eleventh Baron Exham, fled to Virginia 
and there founded the family which by the next century had become known as Delapore. 

Exham Priory had remained untenanted, though later allotted to the estates of the Norrys 
family and much studied because of its peculiarly composite architecture; an architecture 
involving Gothic towers resting on a Saxon or Romanesque substructure, whose foundation in 
turn was of a still earlier order or blend of orders — Roman, and even Druidic or native Cymric, 
if legends speak truly. This foundation was a very singular thing, being merged on one side 
with the solid limestone of the precipice from whose brink the priory overlooked a desolate 
valley three miles west of the village of Anchester. Architects and antiquarians loved to 
examine this strange relic of forgotten centuries, but the country folk hated it. They had hated 
it hundreds of years before, when my ancestors lived there, and they hated it now, with the 
moss and mould of abandonment on it. I had not been a day in Anchester before I knew I 
came of an accursed house. And this week workmen have blown up Exham Priory, and are 
busy obliterating the traces of its foundations. 

The bare statistics of my ancestry I had always known, together with the fact that my first 
American forbear had come to the colonies under a strange cloud. Of details, however, I had 
been kept wholly ignorant through the policy of reticence always maintained by the 
Delapores. Unlike our planter neighbours, we seldom boasted of crusading ancestors or other 
mediaeval and Renaissance heroes; nor was any kind of tradition handed down except what 
may have been recorded in the sealed envelope left before the Civil War by every squire to 
his eldest son for posthumous opening. The glories we cherished were those achieved since 
the migration; the glories of a proud and honourable, if somewhat reserved and unsocial 
Virginia line. 

During the war our fortunes were extinguished and our whole existence changed by the 
burning of Carfax, our home on the banks of the James. My grandfather, advanced in years, 
had perished in that incendiary outrage, and with him the envelope that bound us all to the 
past. I can recall that fire today as I saw it then at the age of seven, with the Federal soldiers 
shouting, the women screaming, and the negroes howling and praying. My father was in the 
army, defending Richmond, and after many formalities my mother and I were passed through 
the lines to join him. When the war ended we all moved north, whence my mother had come; 
and I grew to manhood, middle age, and ultimate wealth as a stolid Yankee. Neither my father 
nor I ever knew what our hereditary envelope had contained, and as I merged into the 
greyness of Massachusetts business life I lost all interest in the mysteries which evidently 

lurked far back in my family tree. Had I suspected their nature, how gladly I would have left 
Exham Priory to its moss, bats, and cobwebs! 

My father died in 1904, but without any message to leave me, or to my only child, Alfred, a 
motherless boy of ten. It was this boy who reversed the order of family information; for 
although I could give him only jesting conjectures about the past, he wrote me of some very 
interesting ancestral legends when the late war took him to England in 1917 as an aviation 
officer. Apparently the Delapores had a colourful and perhaps sinister history, for a friend of 
my son's, Capt. Edward Norrys of the Royal Flying Corps, dwelt near the family seat at 
Anchester and related some peasant superstitions which few novelists could equal for 
wildness and incredibility. Norrys himself, of course, did not take them seriously; but they 
amused my son and made good material for his letters to me. It was this legendry which 
definitely turned my attention to my transatlantic heritage, and made me resolve to purchase 
and restore the family seat which Norrys shewed to Alfred In Its picturesque desertion, and 
offered to get for him at a surprisingly reasonable figure, since his own uncle was the present 

I bought Exham Priory in 1918, but was almost immediately distracted from my plans of 
restoration by the return of my son as a maimed invalid. During the two years that he lived I 
thought of nothing but his care, having even placed my business under the direction of 
partners. In 1921 , as I found myself bereaved and aimless, a retired manufacturer no longer 
young, I resolved to divert my remaining years with my new possession. Visiting Anchester in 
December, I was entertained by Capt. Norrys, a plump, amiable young man who had thought 
much of my son, and secured his assistance in gathering plans and anecdotes to guide in the 
coming restoration. Exham Priory Itself I saw without emotion, a jumble of tottering mediaeval 
ruins covered with lichens and honeycombed with rooks' nests, perched perilously upon a 
precipice, and denuded of floors or other interior features save the stone walls of the separate 

As I gradually recovered the image of the edifice as it had been when my ancestor left it over 
three centuries before, I began to hire workmen for the reconstruction. In every case I was 
forced to go outside the immediate locality, for the Anchester villagers had an almost 
unbelievable fear and hatred of the place. This sentiment was so great that it was sometimes 
communicated to the outside labourers, causing numerous desertions; whilst its scope 
appeared to include both the priory and its ancient family. 

My son had told me that he was somewhat avoided during his visits because he was a de la 
Poor, and I now found myself subtly ostracised for a like reason until I convinced the peasants 
how little I knew of my heritage. Even then they sullenly disliked me, so that I had to collect 
most of the village traditions through the mediation of Norrys. What the people could not 
forgive, perhaps, was that I had come to restore a symbol so abhorrent to them; for, rationally 
or not, they viewed Exham Priory as nothing less than a haunt of fiends and werewolves. 

Piecing together the tales which Norrys collected for me, and supplementing them with the 
accounts of several savants who had studied the ruins, I deduced that Exham Priory stood on 
the site of a prehistoric temple; a Druidical or ante-Druidical thing which must have been 
contemporary with Stonehenge. That indescribable rites had been celebrated there, few 
doubted; and there were unpleasant tales of the transference of these rites into the Cybele- 
worship which the Romans had introduced. Inscriptions still visible in the sub-cellar bore such 
unmistakable letters as "DIV . . . OPS . . . MAGNA. MAT ..." sign of the Magna Mater whose 
dark worship was once vainly forbidden to Roman citizens. Anchester had been the camp of 
the third Augustan legion, as many remains attest, and it was said that the temple of Cybele 

was splendid and thronged with worshippers who performed nameless ceremonies at the 
bidding of a Phrygian priest. Tales added that the fall of the old religion did not end the orgies 
at the temple, but that the priests lived on in the new faith without real change. Lil^ewise was it 
said that the rites did not vanish with the Roman power, and that certain among the Saxons 
added to what remained of the temple, and gave it the essential outline it subsequently 
preserved, making it the centre of a cult feared through half the heptarchy. About 1000 A.D. 
the place is mentioned in a chronicle as being a substantial stone priory housing a strange 
and powerful monastic order and surrounded by extensive gardens which needed no walls to 
exclude a frightened populace. It was never destroyed by the Danes, though after the Norman 
Conquest it must have declined tremendously; since there was no impediment when Henry 
the Third granted the site to my ancestor, Gilbert de la Poer, First Baron Exham, in 1261 . 

Of my family before this date there is no evil report, but something strange must have 
happened then. In one chronicle there is a reference to a de la Poer as "cursed of God" in 
1307, whilst village legendry had nothing but evil and frantic fear to tell of the castle that went 
up on the foundations of the old temple and priory. The fireside tales were of the most grisly 
description, all the ghastlier because of their frightened reticence and cloudy evasiveness. 
They represented my ancestors as a race of hereditary daemons beside whom Gilles de Retz 
and the Marquis de Sade would seem the veriest tyros, and hinted whisperingly at their 
responsibility for the occasional disappearance of villagers through several generations. 

The worst characters, apparently, were the barons and their direct heirs; at least, most was 
whispered about these. If of healthier inclinations, it was said, an heir would early and 
mysteriously die to make way for another more typical scion. There seemed to be an inner 
cult in the family, presided over by the head of the house, and sometimes closed except to a 
few members. Temperament rather than ancestry was evidently the basis of this cult, for it 
was entered by several who married into the family. Lady Margaret Trevor from Cornwall, wife 
of Godfrey, the second son of the fifth baron, became a favourite bane of children all over the 
countryside, and the daemon heroine of a particularly horrible old ballad not yet extinct near 
the Welsh border. Preserved in balladry, too, though not illustrating the same point, is the 
hideous tale of Lady Mary de la Poer, who shortly after her marriage to the Earl of Shrewsfield 
was l<illed by him and his mother, both of the slayers being absolved and blessed by the priest 
to whom they confessed what they dared not repeat to the world. 

These myths and ballads, typical as they were of crude superstition, repelled me greatly. Their 
persistence, and their application to so long a line of my ancestors, were especially annoying; 
whilst the imputations of monstrous habits proved unpleasantly reminiscent of the one l<nown 
scandal of my immediate forbears — the case of my cousin, young Randolph Delapore of 
Carfax, who went among the negroes and became a voodoo priest after he returned from the 
Mexican War. 

I was much less disturbed by the vaguer tales of wails and howlings in the barren, windswept 
valley beneath the limestone cliff; of the graveyard stenches after the spring rains; of the 
floundering, squealing white thing on which Sir John Clave's horse had trod one night in a 
lonely field; and of the servant who had gone mad at what he saw in the priory in the full light 
of day. These things were hackneyed spectral lore, and I was at that time a pronounced 
sceptic. The accounts of vanished peasants were less to be dismissed, though not especially 
significant in view of mediaeval custom. Prying curiosity meant death, and more than one 
severed head had been publicly shewn on the bastions — now effaced — around Exham Priory. 

A few of the tales were exceedingly picturesque, and made me wish I had learnt more of 
comparative mythology in my youth. There was, for instance, the belief that a legion of bat- 

winged devils l<ept Witclies' Sabbatli eacli niglit at the priory — a legion whose sustenance 
might explain the disproportionate abundance of coarse vegetables harvested in the vast 
gardens. And, most vivid of all, there was the dramatic epic of the rats — the scampering army 
of obscene vermin which had burst forth from the castle three months after the tragedy that 
doomed it to desertion — the lean, filthy, ravenous army which had swept all before it and 
devoured fowl, cats, dogs, hogs, sheep, and even two hapless human beings before its fury 
was spent. Around that unforgettable rodent army a whole separate cycle of myths revolves, 
for it scattered among the village homes and brought curses and horrors in its train. 

Such was the lore that assailed me as I pushed to completion, with an elderly obstinacy, the 
work of restoring my ancestral home. It must not be imagined for a moment that these tales 
formed my principal psychological environment. On the other hand, I was constantly praised 
and encouraged by Capt. Norrys and the antiquarians who surrounded and aided me. When 
the task was done, over two years after its commencement, I viewed the great rooms, 
wainscotted walls, vaulted ceilings, mullioned windows, and broad staircases with a pride 
which fully compensated for the prodigious expense of the restoration. Every attribute of the 
Middle Ages was cunningly reproduced, and the new parts blended perfectly with the original 
walls and foundations. The seat of my fathers was complete, and I looked forward to 
redeeming at last the local fame of the line which ended in me. I would reside here 
permanently, and prove that a de la Peer (for I had adopted again the original spelling of the 
name) need not be a fiend. My comfort was perhaps augmented by the fact that, although 
Exham Priory was mediaevally fitted, its interior was in truth wholly new and free from old 
vermin and old ghosts alike. 

As I have said, I moved in on July 16, 1923. My household consisted of seven servants and 
nine cats, of which latter species I am particularly fond. My eldest cat, "Nigger-Man", was 
seven years old and had come with me from my home in Bolton, Massachusetts; the others I 
had accumulated whilst living with Capt. Norrys' family during the restoration of the priory. For 
five days our routine proceeded with the utmost placidity, my time being spent mostly in the 
codification of old family data. I had now obtained some very circumstantial accounts of the 
final tragedy and flight of Walter de la Peer, which I conceived to be the probable contents of 
the hereditary paper lost in the fire at Carfax. It appeared that my ancestor was accused with 
much reason of having killed all the other members of his household, except four servant 
confederates, in their sleep, about two weeks after a shocking discovery which changed his 
whole demeanour, but which, except by implication, he disclosed to no one save perhaps the 
servants who assisted him and aftenward fled beyond reach. 

This deliberate slaughter, which included a father, three brothers, and two sisters, was largely 
condoned by the villagers, and so slackly treated by the law that its perpetrator escaped 
honoured, unharmed, and undisguised to Virginia; the general whispered sentiment being that 
he had purged the land of an immemorial curse. What discovery had prompted an act so 
terrible, I could scarcely even conjecture. Walter de la Peer must have known for years the 
sinister tales about his family, so that this material could have given him no fresh impulse. 
Had he, then, witnessed some appalling ancient rite, or stumbled upon some frightful and 
revealing symbol in the priory or its vicinity? He was reputed to have been a shy, gentle youth 
in England. In Virginia he seemed not so much hard or bitter as harassed and apprehensive. 
He was spoken of in the diary of another gentleman-adventurer, Francis Harley of Bellview, as 
a man of unexampled justice, honour, and delicacy. 

On July 22 occurred the first incident which, though lightly dismissed at the time, takes on a 
preternatural significance in relation to later events. It was so simple as to be almost 

negligible, and could not possibly have been noticed under the circumstances; for it must be 
recalled that since I was in a building practically fresh and new except for the walls, and 
surrounded by a well-balanced staff of servitors, apprehension would have been absurd 
despite the locality. What I afterward remembered is merely this — that my old black cat, 
whose moods I know so well, was undoubtedly alert and anxious to an extent wholly out of 
keeping with his natural character. He roved from room to room, restless and disturbed, and 
sniffed constantly about the walls which formed part of the old Gothic structure. I realise how 
trite this sounds — like the inevitable dog in the ghost story, which always growls before his 
master sees the sheeted figure — yet I cannot consistently suppress it. 

The following day a servant complained of restlessness among all the cats in the house. He 
came to me in my study, a lofty west room on the second story, with groined arches, black oak 
panelling, and a triple Gothic window overlooking the limestone cliff and desolate valley; and 
even as he spoke I saw the jetty form of Nigger-Man creeping along the west wall and 
scratching at the new panels which overlaid the ancient stone. I told the man that there must 
be some singular odour or emanation from the old stonework, imperceptible to human 
senses, but affecting the delicate organs of cats even through the new woodwork. This I truly 
believed, and when the fellow suggested the presence of mice or rats, I mentioned that there 
had been no rats there for three hundred years, and that even the field mice of the 
surrounding country could hardly be found in these high walls, where they had never been 
known to stray. That afternoon I called on Capt. Norrys, and he assured me that it would be 
quite incredible for field mice to infest the priory in such a sudden and unprecedented fashion. 

That night, dispensing as usual with a valet, I retired in the west tower chamber which I had 
chosen as my own, reached from the study by a stone staircase and short gallery — the former 
partly ancient, the latter entirely restored. This room was circular, very high, and without 
wainscotting, being hung with arras which I had myself chosen in London. Seeing that Nigger- 
Man was with me, I shut the heavy Gothic door and retired by the light of the electric bulbs 
which so cleverly counterfeited candles, finally switching off the light and sinking on the 
carved and canopied four-poster, with the venerable cat in his accustomed place across my 
feet. I did not draw the curtains, but gazed out at the narrow north window which I faced. 
There was a suspicion of aurora in the sky, and the delicate traceries of the window were 
pleasantly silhouetted. 

At some time I must have fallen quietly asleep, for I recall a distinct sense of leaving strange 
dreams, when the cat started violently from his placid position. I saw him in the faint auroral 
glow, head strained forward, fore feet on my ankles, and hind feet stretched behind. He was 
looking intensely at a point on the wall somewhat west of the window, a point which to my eye 
had nothing to mark it, but toward which all my attention was now directed. And as I watched, 
I knew that Nigger-Man was not vainly excited. Whether the arras actually moved I cannot 
say. I think it did, very slightly. But what I can swear to is that behind it I heard a low, distinct 
scurrying as of rats or mice. In a moment the cat had jumped bodily on the screening tapestry, 
bringing the affected section to the floor with his weight, and exposing a damp, ancient wall of 
stone; patched here and there by the restorers, and devoid of any trace of rodent prowlers. 
Nigger-Man raced up and down the floor by this part of the wall, clawing the fallen arras and 
seemingly trying at times to insert a paw between the wall and the oaken floor. He found 
nothing, and after a time returned wearily to his place across my feet. I had not moved, but I 
did not sleep again that night. 

In the morning I questioned all the servants, and found that none of them had noticed 
anything unusual, save that the cook remembered the actions of a cat which had rested on 

her windowsill. This cat had howled at some unknown hour of the night, awaking the cook in 
time for her to see him dart purposefully out of the open door down the stairs. I drowsed away 
the noontime, and in the afternoon called again on Capt. Norrys, who became exceedingly 
interested in what I told him. The odd incidents — so slight yet so curious — appealed to his 
sense of the picturesque, and elicited from him a number of reminiscences of local ghostly 
lore. We were genuinely perplexed at the presence of rats, and Norrys lent me some traps 
and Paris green, which I had the servants place in strategic localities when I returned. 

I retired early, being very sleepy, but was harassed by dreams of the most horrible sort. I 
seemed to be looking down from an immense height upon a twilit grotto, knee-deep with filth, 
where a white-bearded daemon swineherd drove about with his staff a flock of fungous, flabby 
beasts whose appearance filled me with unutterable loathing. Then, as the swineherd paused 
and nodded over his task, a mighty swarm of rats rained down on the stinking abyss and fell 
to devouring beasts and man alike. 

From this terrific vision I was abruptly awaked by the motions of Nigger-IVIan, who had been 
sleeping as usual across my feet. This time I did not have to question the source of his snarls 
and hisses, and of the fear which made him sink his claws into my ankle, unconscious of their 
effect; for on every side of the chamber the walls were alive with nauseous sound — the 
verminous slithering of ravenous, gigantic rats. There was now no aurora to shew the state of 
the arras — the fallen section of which had been replaced — but I was not too frightened to 
switch on the light. 

As the bulbs leapt into radiance I saw a hideous shaking all over the tapestry, causing the 
somewhat peculiar designs to execute a singular dance of death. This motion disappeared 
almost at once, and the sound with it. Springing out of bed, I poked at the arras with the long 
handle of a warming-pan that rested near, and lifted one section to see what lay beneath. 
There was nothing but the patched stone wall, and even the cat had lost his tense realisation 
of abnormal presences. When I examined the circular trap that had been placed in the room, I 
found all of the openings sprung, though no trace remained of what had been caught and had 

Further sleep was out of the question, so, lighting a candle, I opened the door and went out in 
the gallery toward the stairs to my study, Nigger-IVIan following at my heels. Before we had 
reached the stone steps, however, the cat darted ahead of me and vanished down the ancient 
flight. As I descended the stairs myself, I became suddenly aware of sounds in the great room 
below; sounds of a nature which could not be mistaken. The oak-panelled walls were alive 
with rats, scampering and milling, whilst Nigger-IVIan was racing about with the fury of a 
baffled hunter. Reaching the bottom, I switched on the light, which did not this time cause the 
noise to subside. The rats continued their riot, stampeding with such force and distinctness 
that I could finally assign to their motions a definite direction. These creatures, in numbers 
apparently inexhaustible, were engaged in one stupendous migration from inconceivable 
heights to some depth conceivably, or inconceivably, below. 

I now heard steps in the corridor, and in another moment two servants pushed open the 
massive door. They were searching the house for some unknown source of disturbance which 
had thrown all the cats into a snarling panic and caused them to plunge precipitately down 
several flights of stairs and squat, yowling, before the closed door to the sub-cellar. I asked 
them if they had heard the rats, but they replied in the negative. And when I turned to call their 
attention to the sounds in the panels, I realised that the noise had ceased. With the two men, I 
went down to the door of the sub-cellar, but found the cats already dispersed. Later I resolved 
to explore the crypt below, but for the present I merely made a round of the traps. All were 

sprung, yet all were tenantless. Satisfying myself that no one had heard the rats save the 
felines and me, I sat in my study till morning; thinking profoundly, and recalling every scrap of 
legend I had unearthed concerning the building I inhabited. 

I slept some in the forenoon, leaning back in the one comfortable library chair which my 
mediaeval plan of furnishing could not banish. Later I telephoned to Capt. Norrys, who came 
over and helped me explore the sub-cellar. Absolutely nothing untoward was found, although 
we could not repress a thrill at the knowledge that this vault was built by Roman hands. Every 
low arch and massive pillar was Roman — not the debased Romanesque of the bungling 
Saxons, but the severe and harmonious classicism of the age of the Caesars; indeed, the 
walls abounded with inscriptions familiar to the antiquarians who had repeatedly explored the 
place— things like "P.GETAE. PROP . . . TEMP . . . DONA . . ." and "L. PRAEC . . . VS . . . 
PONTIFI . . .ATYS . . ." 

The reference to Atys made me shiver, for I had read Catullus and knew something of the 
hideous rites of the Eastern god, whose worship was so mixed with that of Cybele. Norrys 
and I, by the light of lanterns, tried to interpret the odd and nearly effaced designs on certain 
irregularly rectangular blocks of stone generally held to be altars, but could make nothing of 
them. We remembered that one pattern, a sort of rayed sun, was held by students to imply a 
non-Roman origin, suggesting that these altars had merely been adopted by the Roman 
priests from some older and perhaps aboriginal temple on the same site. On one of these 
blocks were some brown stains which made me wonder. The largest, in the centre of the 
room, had certain features on the upper surface which indicated its connexion with fire — 
probably burnt offerings. 

Such were the sights in that crypt before whose door the cats had howled, and where Norrys 
and I now determined to pass the night. Couches were brought down by the servants, who 
were told not to mind any nocturnal actions of the cats, and Nigger-Man was admitted as 
much for help as for companionship. We decided to keep the great oak door — a modern 
replica with slits for ventilation — tightly closed; and, with this attended to, we retired with 
lanterns still burning to await whatever might occur. 

The vault was very deep in the foundations of the priory, and undoubtedly far down on the 
face of the beetling limestone cliff overlooking the waste valley. That it had been the goal of 
the scuffling and unexplainable rats I could not doubt, though why, I could not tell. As we lay 
there expectantly, I found my vigil occasionally mixed with half-formed dreams from which the 
uneasy motions of the cat across my feet would rouse me. These dreams were not 
wholesome, but horribly like the one I had had the night before. I saw again the twilit grotto, 
and the swineherd with his unmentionable fungous beasts wallowing in filth, and as I looked 
at these things they seemed nearer and more distinct — so distinct that I could almost observe 
their features. Then I did observe the flabby features of one of them — and awaked with such a 
scream that Nigger-Man started up, whilst Capt. Norrys, who had not slept, laughed 
considerably. Norrys might have laughed more — or perhaps less — had he known what it was 
that made me scream. But I did not remember myself till later. Ultimate horror often paralyses 
memory in a merciful way. 

Norrys waked me when the phenomena began. Out of the same frightful dream I was called 
by his gentle shaking and his urging to listen to the cats. Indeed, there was much to listen to, 
for beyond the closed door at the head of the stone steps was a veritable nightmare of feline 
yelling and clawing, whilst Nigger-Man, unmindful of his kindred outside, was running 
excitedly around the bare stone walls, in which I heard the same babel of scurrying rats that 
had troubled me the night before. 

An acute terror now rose within me, for liere were anomalies wliicli notliing normal could well 
explain. These rats, If not the creatures of a madness which I shared with the cats alone, must 
be burrowing and sliding in Roman walls I had thought to be of solid limestone blocks . . . 
unless perhaps the action of water through more than seventeen centuries had eaten winding 
tunnels which rodent bodies had worn clear and ample. . . . But even so, the spectral horror 
was no less; for if these were living vermin why did not Norrys hear their disgusting 
commotion? Why did he urge me to watch Nigger-Man and listen to the cats outside, and why 
did he guess wildly and vaguely at what could have aroused them? 

By the time I had managed to tell him, as rationally as I could, what I thought I was hearing, 
my ears gave me the last fading impression of the scurrying; which had retreated still 
downward, far underneath this deepest of sub-cellars till it seemed as if the whole cliff below 
were riddled with questing rats. Norrys was not as sceptical as I had anticipated, but instead 
seemed profoundly moved. He motioned to me to notice that the cats at the door had ceased 
their clamour, as if giving up the rats for lost; whilst Nigger-Man had a burst of renewed 
restlessness, and was clawing frantically around the bottom of the large stone altar in the 
centre of the room, which was nearer Norrys' couch than mine. 

My fear of the unknown was at this point very great. Something astounding had occurred, and 
I saw that Capt. Norrys, a younger, stouter, and presumably more naturally materialistic man, 
was affected fully as much as myself — perhaps because of his lifelong and intimate familiarity 
with local legend. We could for the moment do nothing but watch the old black cat as he 
pawed with decreasing fervour at the base of the altar, occasionally looking up and mewing to 
me in that persuasive manner which he used when he wished me to perform some favour for 

Norrys now took a lantern close to the altar and examined the place where Nigger-Man was 
pawing; silently kneeling and scraping away the lichens of centuries which joined the massive 
pre-Roman block to the tessellated floor. He did not find anything, and was about to abandon 
his effort when I noticed a trivial circumstance which made me shudder, even though it implied 
nothing more than I had already imagined. I told him of it, and we both looked at its almost 
imperceptible manifestation with the fixedness of fascinated discovery and acknowledgment. 
It was only this — that the flame of the lantern set down near the altar was slightly but certainly 
flickering from a draught of air which it had not before received, and which came indubitably 
from the crevice between floor and altar where Norrys was scraping away the lichens. 

We spent the rest of the night in the brilliantly lighted study, nervously discussing what we 
should do next. The discovery that some vault deeper than the deepest known masonry of the 
Romans underlay this accursed pile — some vault unsuspected by the curious antiquarians of 
three centuries — would have been sufficient to excite us without any background of the 
sinister. As it was, the fascination became twofold; and we paused in doubt whether to 
abandon our search and quit the priory forever in superstitious caution, or to gratify our sense 
of adventure and brave whatever horrors might await us in the unknown depths. By morning 
we had compromised, and decided to go to London to gather a group of archaeologists and 
scientific men fit to cope with the mystery. It should be mentioned that before leaving the sub- 
cellar we had vainly tried to move the central altar which we now recognised as the gate to a 
new pit of nameless fear. What secret would open the gate, wiser men than we would have to 

During many days in London Capt. Norrys and I presented our facts, conjectures, and 
legendary anecdotes to five eminent authorities, all men who could be trusted to respect any 
family disclosures which future explorations might develop. We found most of them little 

disposed to scoff, but instead intensely interested and sincerely sympathetic. It is hardly 
necessary to name them all, but I may say that they included Sir William Brinton, whose 
excavations in the Troad excited most of the world In their day. As we all took the train for 
Anchester I felt myself poised on the brink of frightful revelations, a sensation symbolised by 
the air of mourning among the many Americans at the unexpected death of the President on 
the other side of the world. 

On the evening of August 7th we reached Exham Priory, where the servants assured me that 
nothing unusual had occurred. The cats, even old Nigger- Man, had been perfectly placid; and 
not a trap in the house had been sprung. We were to begin exploring on the following day, 
awaiting which I assigned well-appointed rooms to all my guests. I myself retired in my own 
tower chamber, with Nigger-Man across my feet. Sleep came quickly, but hideous dreams 
assailed me. There was a vision of a Roman feast like that of Trimalchio, with a horror In a 
covered platter. Then came that damnable, recurrent thing about the swineherd and his filthy 
drove in the twilit grotto. Yet when I awoke it was full daylight, with normal sounds in the 
house below. The rats, living or spectral, had not troubled me; and Nigger-Man was quietly 
asleep. On going down, I found that the same tranquillity had prevailed elsewhere; a condition 
which one of the assembled savants — a fellow named Thornton, devoted to the psychic — 
rather absurdly laid to the fact that I had now been shewn the thing which certain forces had 
wished to shew me. 

All was now ready, and at 11 a.m. our entire group of seven men, bearing powerful electric 
searchlights and implements of excavation, went down to the sub-cellar and bolted the door 
behind us. Nigger-Man was with us, for the Investigators found no occasion to despise his 
excitability, and were indeed anxious that he be present In case of obscure rodent 
manifestations. We noted the Roman inscriptions and unknown altar designs only briefly, for 
three of the savants had already seen them, and all knew their characteristics. Prime attention 
was paid to the momentous central altar, and within an hour Sir William Brinton had caused it 
to tilt backward, balanced by some unknown species of countenweight. 

There now lay revealed such a horror as would have overwhelmed us had we not been 
prepared. Through a nearly square opening In the tiled floor, sprawling on a flight of stone 
steps so prodigiously worn that it was little more than an inclined plane at the centre, was a 
ghastly array of human or semi-human bones. Those which retained their collocation as 
skeletons shewed attitudes of panic fear, and over all were the marks of rodent gnawing. The 
skulls denoted nothing short of utter Idiocy, cretinism, or primitive semi-apedom. Above the 
hellishly littered steps arched a descending passage seemingly chiselled from the solid rock, 
and conducting a current of air. This current was not a sudden and noxious rush as from a 
closed vault, but a cool breeze with something of freshness in it. We did not pause long, but 
shiverlngly began to clear a passage down the steps. It was then that Sir William, examining 
the hewn walls, made the odd observation that the passage, according to the direction of the 
strokes, must have been chiselled from beneath. 

I must be very deliberate now, and choose my words. 

After ploughing down a few steps amidst the gnawed bones we saw that there was light 
ahead; not any mystic phosphorescence, but a filtered daylight which could not come except 
from unknown fissures In the cliff that overlooked the waste valley. That such fissures had 
escaped notice from outside was hardly remarkable, for not only is the valley wholly 
uninhabited, but the cliff is so high and beetling that only an aeronaut could study its face in 
detail. A few steps more, and our breaths were literally snatched from us by what we saw; so 
literally that Thornton, the psychic investigator, actually fainted in the arms of the dazed man 

who stood behind him. Norrys, his plump face utterly white and flabby, simply cried out 
Inarticulately; whilst I think that what I did was to gasp or hiss, and cover my eyes. The man 
behind me — the only one of the party older than I — croaked the hackneyed "My God!" in the 
most cracked voice I ever heard. Of seven cultivated men, only Sir William Brinton retained 
his composure; a thing more to his credit because he led the party and must have seen the 
sight first. 

It was a twilit grotto of enormous height, stretching away farther than any eye could see; a 
subterraneous world of limitless mystery and horrible suggestion. There were buildings and 
other architectural remains — in one terrified glance I saw a weird pattern of tumuli, a savage 
circle of monoliths, a low-domed Roman ruin, a sprawling Saxon pile, and an early English 
edifice of wood — but all these were dwarfed by the ghoulish spectacle presented by the 
general surface of the ground. For yards about the steps extended an insane tangle of human 
bones, or bones at least as human as those on the steps. Like a foamy sea they stretched, 
some fallen apart, but others wholly or partly articulated as skeletons; these latter invariably in 
postures of daemoniac frenzy, either fighting off some menace or clutching other forms with 
cannibal intent. 

When Dr. Trask, the anthropologist, stooped to classify the skulls, he found a degraded 
mixture which utterly baffled him. They were mostly lower than the Piltdown man in the scale 
of evolution, but in every case definitely human. Many were of higher grade, and a very few 
were the skulls of supremely and sensitively developed types. All the bones were gnawed, 
mostly by rats, but somewhat by others of the half-human drove. Mixed with them were many 
tiny bones of rats — fallen members of the lethal army which closed the ancient epic. 

I wonder that any man among us lived and kept his sanity through that hideous day of 
discovery. Not Hoffmann or Huysmans could conceive a scene more wildly incredible, more 
frenetically repellent, or more Gothically grotesque than the twilit grotto through which we 
seven staggered; each stumbling on revelation after revelation, and trying to keep for the 
nonce from thinking of the events which must have taken place there three hundred years, or 
a thousand, or two thousand, or ten thousand years ago. It was the antechamber of hell, and 
poor Thornton fainted again when Trask told him that some of the skeleton things must have 
descended as quadrupeds through the last twenty or more generations. 

Horror piled on horror as we began to interpret the architectural remains. The quadruped 
things — with their occasional recruits from the biped class — had been kept in stone pens, out 
of which they must have broken in their last delirium of hunger or rat-fear. There had been 
great herds of them, evidently fattened on the coarse vegetables whose remains could be 
found as a sort of poisonous ensilage at the bottom of huge stone bins older than Rome. I 
knew now why my ancestors had had such excessive gardens — would to heaven I could 
forget! The purpose of the herds I did not have to ask. 

Sir William, standing with his searchlight in the Roman ruin, translated aloud the most 
shocking ritual I have ever known; and told of the diet of the antediluvian cult which the priests 
of Gybele found and mingled with their own. Norrys, used as he was to the trenches, could 
not walk straight when he came out of the English building. It was a butcher shop and 
kitchen — he had expected that — but it was too much to see familiar English implements in 
such a place, and to read familiar English graffiti there, some as recent as 1610. 1 could not 
go in that building — that building whose daemon activities were stopped only by the dagger of 
my ancestor Walter de la Peer. 

What I did venture to enter was the low Saxon building, whose oaken door had fallen, and 
there I found a terrible row of ten stone cells with rusty bars. Three had tenants, all skeletons 
of high grade, and on the bony forefinger of one I found a seal ring with my own coat-of-arms. 
Sir William found a vault with far older cells below the Roman chapel, but these cells were 
empty. Below them was a low crypt with cases of formally arranged bones, some of them 
bearing terrible parallel inscriptions carved in Latin, Greek, and the tongue of Phrygia. 
Meanwhile, Dr. Trask had opened one of the prehistoric tumuli, and brought to light skulls 
which were slightly more human than a gorilla's, and which bore indescribable ideographic 
carvings. Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously 
perched atop a mountain of bones, and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his 
yellow eyes. 

Having grasped to some slight degree the frightful revelations of this twilit area — an area so 
hideously foreshadowed by my recurrent dream — we turned to that apparently boundless 
depth of midnight cavern where no ray of light from the cliff could penetrate. We shall never 
know what sightless Stygian worlds yawn beyond the little distance we went, for it was 
decided that such secrets are not good for mankind. But there was plenty to engross us close 
at hand, for we had not gone far before the searchlights shewed that accursed infinity of pits 
in which the rats had feasted, and whose sudden lack of replenishment had driven the 
ravenous rodent army first to turn on the living herds of starving things, and then to burst forth 
from the priory in that historic orgy of devastation which the peasants will never forget. 

God! those carrion black pits of sawed, picked bones and opened skulls! Those nightmare 
chasms choked with the pithecanthropoid, Celtic, Roman, and English bones of countless 
unhallowed centuries! Some of them were full, and none can say how deep they had once 
been. Others were still bottomless to our searchlights, and peopled by unnamable fancies. 
What, I thought, of the hapless rats that stumbled into such traps amidst the blackness of their 
quests in this grisly Tartarus? 

Once my foot slipped near a horribly yawning brink, and I had a moment of ecstatic fear. I 
must have been musing a long time, for I could not see any of the party but the plump Capt. 
Norrys. Then there came a sound from that inky, boundless, farther distance that I thought I 
knew; and I saw my old black cat dart past me like a winged Egyptian god, straight into the 
illimitable gulf of the unknown. But I was not far behind, for there was no doubt after another 
second. It was the eldritch scurrying of those fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors, 
and determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth's centre where 
Nyarlathotep, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of two amorphous idiot flute- 

My searchlight expired, but still I ran. I heard voices, and yowls, and echoes, but above all 
there gently rose that impious, insidious scurrying; gently rising, rising, as a stiff bloated 
corpse gently rises above an oily river that flows under endless onyx bridges to a black, putrid 
sea. Something bumped into me — something soft and plump. It must have been the rats; the 
viscous, gelatinous, ravenous army that feast on the dead and the living. . . . Why shouldn't 
rats eat a de la Poer as a de la Poer eats forbidden things? . . . The war ate my boy, damn 
them all . . . and the Yanks ate Carfax with flames and burnt Grandsire Delapore and the 
secret ... No, no, I tell you, I am not that daemon swineherd in the twilit grotto! It was not 
Edward Norrys' fat face on that flabby, fungous thing! Who says 1 am a de la Poer? He lived, 
but my boy died! . . . Shall a Norrys hold the lands of a de la Poer? . . . It's voodoo, I tell you . 
. . that spotted snake . . . Curse you, Thornton, I'll teach you to faint at what my family do! . . . 
'Sblood, thou stinkard, I'll learn ye how to gust . . . wolde ye swynke me thiike wys? . . . 

Magna Mater! Magna Mater! . . . Atys . . . Dia ad agliaidt) 's ad aodann . . . agus bas dunacli 
ort! Dtionas 's dholas ort, agus leat-sa! . . . UngI . . . ungi . . . rrrlli . . . clicticli . . . 

That is what they say I said when they found me in the blackness after three hours; found me 
crouching in the blackness over the plump, half-eaten body of Capt. Norrys, with my own cat 
leaping and tearing at my throat. Now they have blown up Exham Priory, taken my Nigger- 
Man away from me, and shut me into this barred room at Hanwell with fearful whispers about 
my heredity and experiences. Thornton is in the next room, but they prevent me from talking 
to him. They are trying, too, to suppress most of the facts concerning the priory. When I speak 
of poor Norrys they accuse me of a hideous thing, but they must know that I did not do it. 
They must know it was the rats; the slithering, scurrying rats whose scampering will never let 
me sleep; the daemon rats that race behind the padding in this room and beckon me down to 
greater horrors than I have ever known; the rats they can never hear; the rats, the rats in the 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Unnamable 


We were sitting on a dilapidated seventeenth-century tomb in the late afternoon of an autumn 
day at the old burying-ground in Arkham, and speculating about the unnamable. Looking 
toward the giant willow in the centre of the cemetery, whose trunk has nearly engulfed an 
ancient, illegible slab, I had made a fantastic remark about the spectral and unmentionable 
nourishment which the colossal roots must be sucking in from that hoary, charnel earth; when 
my friend chided me for such nonsense and told me that since no interments had occurred 
there for over a century, nothing could possibly exist to nourish the tree in other than an 
ordinary manner. Besides, he added, my constant talk about "unnamable" and 
"unmentionable" things was a very puerile device, quite in keeping with my lowly standing as 
an author. I was too fond of ending my stories with sights or sounds which paralysed my 
heroes' faculties and left them without courage, words, or associations to tell what they had 
experienced. We know things, he said, only through our five senses or our religious intuitions; 
wherefore it is quite impossible to refer to any object or spectacle which cannot be clearly 
depicted by the solid definitions of fact or the correct doctrines of theology — preferably those 
of the Congregationalists, with whatever modifications tradition and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
may supply. 

With this friend, Joel Manton, I had often languidly disputed. He was principal of the East High 
School, born and bred in Boston and sharing New England's self-satisfied deafness to the 
delicate overtones of life. It was his view that only our normal, objective experiences possess 
any aesthetic significance, and that it is the province of the artist not so much to rouse strong 
emotion by action, ecstasy, and astonishment, as to maintain a placid interest and 
appreciation by accurate, detailed transcripts of every-day affairs. Especially did he object to 
my preoccupation with the mystical and the unexplained; for although believing in the 
supernatural much more fully than I, he would not admit that it is sufficiently commonplace for 
literary treatment. That a mind can find its greatest pleasure in escapes from the daily 
treadmill, and in original and dramatic recombinations of images usually thrown by habit and 
fatigue into the hackneyed patterns of actual existence, was something virtually incredible to 
his clear, practical, and logical intellect. With him all things and feelings had fixed dimensions, 
properties, causes, and effects; and although he vaguely knew that the mind sometimes holds 
visions and sensations of far less geometrical, classifiable, and workable nature, he believed 
himself justified in drawing an arbitrary line and ruling out of court all that cannot be 
experienced and understood by the average citizen. Besides, he was almost sure that nothing 
can be really "unnamable". It didn't sound sensible to him. 

Though I well realised the futility of imaginative and metaphysical arguments against the 
complacency of an orthodox sun-dweller, something in the scene of this afternoon colloquy 
moved me to more than usual contentiousness. The crumbling slate slabs, the patriarchal 
trees, and the centuried gambrel roofs of the witch-haunted old town that stretched around, all 
combined to rouse my spirit in defence of my work; and I was soon carrying my thrusts into 
the enemy's own country. It was not, indeed, difficult to begin a counter-attack, for I knew that 
Joel Manton actually half clung to many old-wives' superstitions which sophisticated people 
had long outgrown; beliefs in the appearance of dying persons at distant places, and in the 
impressions left by old faces on the windows through which they had gazed all their lives. To 
credit these whisperings of rural grandmothers, I now insisted, argued a faith in the existence 
of spectral substances on the earth apart from and subsequent to their material counterparts. 

It argued a capability of believing in phenomena beyond all normal notions; for if a dead man 
can transmit his visible or tangible image half across the world, or down the stretch of the 
centuries, how can it be absurd to suppose that deserted houses are full of queer sentient 
things, or that old graveyards teem with the terrible, unbodied intelligence of generations? 
And since spirit, in order to cause all the manifestations attributed to it, cannot be limited by 
any of the laws of matter; why is it extravagant to imagine psychically living dead things in 
shapes — or absences of shapes — which must for human spectators be utterly and appallingly 
"unnamable"? "Common sense" in reflecting on these subjects, I assured my friend with some 
warmth, is merely a stupid absence of imagination and mental flexibility. 

Twilight had now approached, but neither of us felt any wish to cease speaking. Manton 
seemed unimpressed by my arguments, and eager to refute them, having that confidence in 
his own opinions which had doubtless caused his success as a teacher; whilst I was too sure 
of my ground to fear defeat. The dusk fell, and lights faintly gleamed in some of the distant 
windows, but we did not move. Our seat on the tomb was very comfortable, and I knew that 
my prosaic friend would not mind the cavernous rift in the ancient, root-disturbed brickwork 
close behind us, or the utter blackness of the spot brought by the intervention of a tottering, 
deserted seventeenth-century house between us and the nearest lighted road. There in the 
dark, upon that riven tomb by the deserted house, we talked on about the "unnamable", and 
after my friend had finished his scoffing I told him of the awful evidence behind the story at 
which he had scoffed the most. 

My tale had been called "The Attic Window", and appeared in the January, 1922, issue of 
Whispers. In a good many places, especially the South and the Pacific coast, they took the 
magazines off the stands at the complaints of silly milksops; but New England didn't get the 
thrill and merely shrugged its shoulders at my extravagance. The thing, it was averred, was 
biologically impossible to start with; merely another of those crazy country mutterings which 
Cotton Mather had been gullible enough to dump into his chaotic Magnalia Christi Americana, 
and so poorly authenticated that even he had not ventured to name the locality where the 
horror occurred. And as to the way I amplified the bare jotting of the old mystic — that was 
quite impossible, and characteristic of a flighty and notional scribbler! Mather had indeed told 
of the thing as being born, but nobody but a cheap sensationalist would think of having it grow 
up, look into people's windows at night, and be hidden in the attic of a house, in flesh and in 
spirit, till someone saw it at the window centuries later and couldn't describe what it was that 
turned his hair grey. All this was flagrant trashiness, and my friend Manton was not slow to 
insist on that fact. Then I told him what I had found in an old diary kept between 1 706 and 
1723, unearthed among family papers not a mile from where we were sitting; that, and the 
certain reality of the scars on my ancestor's chest and back which the diary described. I told 
him, too, of the fears of others in that region, and how they were whispered down for 
generations; and how no mythical madness came to the boy who in 1793 entered an 
abandoned house to examine certain traces suspected to be there. 

It had been an eldritch thing — no wonder sensitive students shudder at the Puritan age in 
Massachusetts. So little is known of what went on beneath the surface — so little, yet such a 
ghastly festering as it bubbles up putrescently in occasional ghoulish glimpses. The witchcraft 
terror is a horrible ray of light on what was stewing in men's crushed brains, but even that is a 
trifle. There was no beauty; no freedom — we can see that from the architectural and 
household remains, and the poisonous sermons of the cramped divines. And inside that 
rusted iron strait-jacket lurked gibbering hideousness, perversion, and diabolism. Here, truly, 
was the apotheosis of the unnamable. 

Cotton Mather, in that daemoniac sixth book which no one should read after dark, minced no 
words as he flung forth his anathema. Stern as a Jewish prophet, and laconically unamazed 
as none since his day could be, he told of the beast that had brought forth what was more 
than beast but less than man — the thing with the blemished eye — and of the screaming 
drunken wretch that they hanged for having such an eye. This much he baldly told, yet 
without a hint of what came after. Perhaps he did not know, or perhaps he knew and did not 
dare to tell. Others knew, but did not dare to tell — there is no public hint of why they 
whispered about the lock on the door to the attic stairs in the house of a childless, broken, 
embittered old man who had put up a blank slate slab by an avoided grave, although one may 
trace enough evasive legends to curdle the thinnest blood. 

It is all in that ancestral diary I found; all the hushed innuendoes and furtive tales of things 
with a blemished eye seen at windows in the night or in deserted meadows near the woods. 
Something had caught my ancestor on a dark valley road, leaving him with marks of horns on 
his chest and of ape-like claws on his back; and when they looked for prints in the trampled 
dust they found the mixed marks of split hooves and vaguely anthropoid paws. Once a post- 
rider said he saw an old man chasing and calling to a frightful loping, nameless thing on 
Meadow Hill in the thinly moonlit hours before dawn, and many believed him. Certainly, there 
was strange talk one night in 1710 when the childless, broken old man was buried in the crypt 
behind his own house in sight of the blank slate slab. They never unlocked that attic door, but 
left the whole house as it was, dreaded and deserted. When noises came from it, they 
whispered and shivered; and hoped that the lock on that attic door was strong. Then they 
stopped hoping when the horror occurred at the parsonage, leaving not a soul alive or in one 
piece. With the years the legends take on a spectral character — I suppose the thing, if it was 
a living thing, must have died. The memory had lingered hideously — all the more hideous 
because it was so secret. 

During this narration my friend Manton had become very silent, and I saw that my words had 
impressed him. He did not laugh as I paused, but asked quite seriously about the boy who 
went mad in 1793, and who had presumably been the hero of my fiction. I told him why the 
boy had gone to that shunned, deserted house, and remarked that he ought to be interested, 
since he believed that windows retained latent images of those who had sat at them. The boy 
had gone to look at the windows of that horrible attic, because of tales of things seen behind 
them, and had come back screaming maniacally. 

Manton remained thoughtful as I said this, but gradually reverted to his analytical mood. He 
granted for the sake of argument that some unnatural monster had really existed, but 
reminded me that even the most morbid perversion of Nature need not be unnamable or 
scientifically indescribable. I admired his clearness and persistence, and added some further 
revelations I had collected among the old people. Those later spectral legends, I made plain, 
related to monstrous apparitions more frightful than anything organic could be; apparitions of 
gigantic bestial forms sometimes visible and sometimes only tangible, which floated about on 
moonless nights and haunted the old house, the crypt behind it, and the grave where a 
sapling had sprouted beside an illegible slab. Whether or not such apparitions had ever gored 
or smothered people to death, as told in uncorroborated traditions, they had produced a 
strong and consistent impression; and were yet darkly feared by very aged natives, though 
largely forgotten by the last two generations — perhaps dying for lack of being thought about. 
Moreover, so far as aesthetic theory was involved, if the psychic emanations of human 
creatures be grotesque distortions, what coherent representation could express or portray so 
gibbous and infamous a nebulosity as the spectre of a malign, chaotic perversion, itself a 

morbid blasphemy against Nature? Moulded by the dead brain of a hybrid nightmare, would 
not such a vaporous terror constitute in all loathsome truth the exquisitely, the shriekingly 


The hour must now have grown very late. A singularly noiseless bat brushed by me, and I 
believe it touched Manton also, for although I could not see him I felt him raise his arm. 
Presently he spoke. 

"But is that house with the attic window still standing and deserted?" 
"Yes," I answered. "I have seen it." 

"And did you find anything there — in the attic or anywhere else?" 

"There were some bones up under the eaves. They may have been what that boy saw — if he 
was sensitive he wouldn't have needed anything in the window-glass to unhinge him. If they 
all came from the same object it must have been an hysterical, delirious monstrosity. It would 
have been blasphemous to leave such bones in the world, so I went back with a sack and 
took them to the tomb behind the house. There was an opening where I could dump them in. 
Don't think I was a fool — you ought to have seen that skull. It had four-inch horns, but a face 
and jaw something like yours and mine." 

At last I could feel a real shiver run through Manton, who had moved very near. But his 
curiosity was undeterred. 

"And what about the window-panes?" 

"They were all gone. One window had lost its entire frame, and in the other there was not a 
trace of glass in the little diamond apertures. They were that kind — the old lattice windows 
that went out of use before 1700. I don't believe they've had any glass for an hundred years 
or more — maybe the boy broke 'em if he got that far; the legend doesn't say." 

Manton was reflecting again. 

"I'd like to see that house, Carter. Where is it? Glass or no glass, i must explore it a little. And 
the tomb where you put those bones, and the other grave without an inscription — the whole 
thing must be a bit terrible." 

"You did see it — until it got dark." 

My friend was more wrought upon than I had suspected, for at this touch of harmless 
theatricalism he started neurotically away from me and actually cried out with a sort of gulping 
gasp which released a strain of previous repression. It was an odd cry, and all the more 
terrible because it was answered. For as it was still echoing, I heard a creaking sound through 
the pitchy blackness, and knew that a lattice window was opening in that accursed old house 
beside us. And because all the other frames were long since fallen, I knew that it was the 
grisly glassless frame of that daemoniac attic window. 

Then came a noxious rush of noisome, frigid air from that same dreaded direction, followed 
by a piercing shriek just beside me on that shocking rifted tomb of man and monster. In 
another instant I was knocked from my gruesome bench by the devilish threshing of some 
unseen entity of titanic size but undetermined nature; knocked sprawling on the root-clutched 
mould of that abhorrent graveyard, while from the tomb came such a stifled uproar of gasping 
and whirring that my fancy peopled the rayless gloom with Miltonic legions of the misshapen 
damned. There was a vortex of withering, ice-cold wind, and then the rattle of loose bricks 
and plaster; but I had mercifully fainted before I could learn what it meant. 

Manton, though smaller than I, is more resilient; for we opened our eyes at almost the same 
Instant, despite his greater injuries. Our couches were side by side, and we knew in a few 
seconds that we were in St. Mary's Hospital. Attendants were grouped about in tense 
curiosity, eager to aid our memory by telling us how we came there, and we soon heard of the 
farmer who had found us at noon in a lonely field beyond Meadow Hill, a mile from the old 
burying-ground, on a spot where an ancient slaughterhouse is reputed to have stood. Manton 
had two malignant wounds in the chest, and some less severe cuts or gougings in the back. I 
was not so seriously hurt, but was covered with welts and contusions of the most bewildering 
character, including the print of a split hoof. It was plain that Manton knew more than I, but he 
told nothing to the puzzled and interested physicians till he had learned what our injuries 
were. Then he said we were the victims of a vicious bull — though the animal was a difficult 
thing to place and account for. 

After the doctors and nurses had left, I whispered an awestruck question: 

"Good God, Manton, but what was /Y? Those scars — was it like ttiat?" 

And I was too dazed to exult when he whispered back a thing I had half expected — 

"No — it wasn't that way at ail. It was everywhere — a gelatin — a slime — yet it had shapes, a 
thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. There were eyes — and a blemish. It was the 
pit — the maelstrom — the ultimate abomination. Carter, it was the unnamable!" 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Festival 


"Efficiunt Daemones, ut quae non sunt, sic tamen 
quasi sint, conspicienda hominibus exiiibeant." 

— Lactantius. 

I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me. In the twilight I heard it 
pounding on the rocks, and I knew it lay just over the hill where the twisting willows writhed 
against the clearing sky and the first stars of evening. And because my fathers had called me 
to the old town beyond, I pushed on through the shallow, new-fallen snow along the road that 
soared lonely up to where Aldebaran twinkled among the trees; on toward the very ancient 
town I had never seen but often dreamed of. 

It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than 
Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind. It was the Yuletide, and I had 
come at last to the ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder 
time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keep festival 
once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten. Mine were an 
old people, and were old even when this land was settled three hundred years before. And 
they were strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate southern gardens 
of orchids, and spoken another tongue before they learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. 
And now they were scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none living could 
understand. I was the only one who came back that night to the old fishing town as legend 
bade, for only the poor and the lonely remember. 

Then beyond the hill's crest I saw Kingsport outspread frostily in the gloaming; snowy 
Kingsport with its ancient vanes and steeples, ridgepoles and chimney-pots, wharves and 
small bridges, willow-trees and graveyards; endless labyrinths of steep, narrow, crooked 
streets, and dizzy church-crowned central peak that time durst not touch; ceaseless mazes of 
colonial houses piled and scattered at all angles and levels like a child's disordered blocks; 
antiquity hovering on grey wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlights 
and small-paned windows one by one gleaming out In the cold dusk to join Orion and the 
archaic stars. And against the rotting wharves the sea pounded; the secretive, immemorial 
sea out of which the people had come in the elder time. 

Beside the road at its crest a still higher summit rose, bleak and windswept, and I saw that it 
was a burying-ground where black gravestones stuck ghoulishly through the snow like the 
decayed fingernails of a gigantic corpse. The printless road was very lonely, and sometimes I 
thought I heard a distant horrible creaking as of a gibbet in the wind. They had hanged four 
kinsmen of mine for witchcraft in 1692, but I did not know just where. 

As the road wound down the seaward slope I listened for the merry sounds of a village at 
evening, but did not hear them. Then I thought of the season, and felt that these old Puritan 
folk might well have Christmas customs strange to me, and full of silent hearthside prayer. So 
after that I did not listen for merriment or look for wayfarers, but kept on down past the hushed 
lighted farmhouses and shadowy stone walls to where the signs of ancient shops and sea- 
taverns creaked in the salt breeze, and the grotesque knockers of pillared doorways glistened 
along deserted, unpaved lanes in the light of little, curtained windows. 

I had seen maps of the town, and knew where to find the home of my people. It was told that I 
should be known and welcomed, for village legend lives long; so I hastened through Back 
Street to Circle Court, and across the fresh snow on the one full flagstone pavement in the 
town, to where Green Lane leads off behind the IVIarket house. The old maps still held good, 
and I had no trouble; though at Arkham they must have lied when they said the trolleys ran to 
this place, since I saw not a wire overhead. Snow would have hid the rails in any case. I was 
glad I had chosen to walk, for the white village had seemed very beautiful from the hill; and 
now I was eager to knock at the door of my people, the seventh house on the left in Green 
Lane, with an ancient peaked roof and jutting second story, all built before 1 650. 

There were lights inside the house when I came upon it, and I saw from the diamond window- 
panes that it must have been kept very close to its antique state. The upper part overhung the 
narrow grass-grown street and nearly met the overhanging part of the house opposite, so that 
I was almost in a tunnel, with the low stone doorstep wholly free from snow. There was no 
sidewalk, but many houses had high doors reached by double flights of steps with iron 
railings. It was an odd scene, and because I was strange to New England I had never known 
its like before. Though it pleased me, I would have relished it better if there had been 
footprints in the snow, and people in the streets, and a few windows without drawn curtains. 

When I sounded the archaic iron knocker I was half afraid. Some fear had been gathering in 
me, perhaps because of the strangeness of my heritage, and the bleakness of the evening, 
and the queerness of the silence in that aged town of curious customs. And when my knock 
was answered I was fully afraid, because I had not heard any footsteps before the door 
creaked open. But I was not afraid long, for the gowned, slippered old man in the doorway 
had a bland face that reassured me; and though he made signs that he was dumb, he wrote a 
quaint and ancient welcome with the stylus and wax tablet he carried. 

He beckoned me into a low, candle-lit room with massive exposed rafters and dark, stiff, 
sparse furniture of the seventeenth century. The past was vivid there, for not an attribute was 
missing. There was a cavernous fireplace and a spinning-wheel at which a bent old woman in 
loose wrapper and deep poke-bonnet sat back toward me, silently spinning despite the festive 
season. An indefinite dampness seemed upon the place, and I marvelled that no fire should 
be blazing. The high-backed settle faced the row of curtained windows at the left, and seemed 
to be occupied, though I was not sure. I did not like everything about what I saw, and felt 
again the fear I had had. This fear grew stronger from what had before lessened it, for the 
more I looked at the old man's bland face the more its very blandness terrified me. The eyes 
never moved, and the skin was too like wax. Finally I was sure it was not a face at all, but a 
fiendishly cunning mask. But the flabby hands, curiously gloved, wrote genially on the tablet 
and told me I must wait a while before I could be led to the place of festival. 

Pointing to a chair, table, and pile of books, the old man now left the room; and when I sat 
down to read I saw that the books were hoary and mouldy, and that they included old 
Morryster's wild Marvells of Science, the terrible Saducismus Triumphatus of Joseph Glanvill, 
published in 1681, the shocking Daemonolatreia of Remigius, printed in 1595 at Lyons, and 
worst of all, the unmentionable Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, in Olaus 
Wormius' forbidden Latin translation; a book which I had never seen, but of which I had heard 
monstrous things whispered. No one spoke to me, but I could hear the creaking of signs in 
the wind outside, and the whir of the wheel as the bonneted old woman continued her silent 
spinning, spinning. I thought the room and the books and the people very morbid and 
disquieting, but because an old tradition of my fathers had summoned me to strange 
feastings, I resolved to expect queer things. So I tried to read, and soon became tremblingly 

absorbed by something I found in tliat accursed Necronomicon; a tliouglit and a legend too 
liideous for sanity or consciousness. But I dislil<ed it when I fancied I heard the closing of one 
of the windows that the settle faced, as if it had been stealthily opened. It had seemed to 
follow a whirring that was not of the old woman's spinning-wheel. This was not much, though, 
for the old woman was spinning very hard, and the aged clock had been striking. After that I 
lost the feeling that there were persons on the settle, and was reading intently and 
shudderingly when the old man came back booted and dressed in a loose antique costume, 
and sat down on that very bench, so that I could not see him. It was certainly nervous waiting, 
and the blasphemous book in my hands made it doubly so. When eleven struck, however, the 
old man stood up, glided to a massive carved chest in a corner, and got two hooded cloaks; 
one of which he donned, and the other of which he draped round the old woman, who was 
ceasing her monotonous spinning. Then they both started for the outer door; the woman 
lamely creeping, and the old man, after picking up the very book I had been reading, 
beckoning me as he drew his hood over that unmoving face or mask. 

We went out into the moonless and tortuous network of that incredibly ancient town; went out 
as the lights in the curtained windows disappeared one by one, and the Dog Star leered at the 
throng of cowled, cloaked figures that poured silently from every doorway and formed 
monstrous processions up this street and that, past the creaking signs and antediluvian 
gables, the thatched roofs and diamond-paned windows; threading precipitous lanes where 
decaying houses overlapped and crumbled together, gliding across open courts and 
churchyards where the bobbing lanthorns made eldritch drunken constellations. 

Amid these hushed throngs I followed my voiceless guides; jostled by elbows that seemed 
preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and stomachs that seemed abnormally pulpy; but 
seeing never a face and hearing never a word. Up, up, up the eerie columns slithered, and I 
saw that all the travellers were converging as they flowed near a sort of focus of crazy alleys 
at the top of a high hill in the centre of the town, where perched a great white church. I had 
seen it from the road's crest when I looked at Kingsport in the new dusk, and it had made me 
shiver because Aldebaran had seemed to balance itself a moment on the ghostly spire. 

There was an open space around the church; partly a churchyard with spectral shafts, and 
partly a half-paved square swept nearly bare of snow by the wind, and lined with 
unwholesomely archaic houses having peaked roofs and overhanging gables. Death-fires 
danced over the tombs, revealing gruesome vistas, though queerly failing to cast any 
shadows. Past the churchyard, where there were no houses, I could see over the hill's 
summit and watch the glimmer of stars on the harbour, though the town was invisible in the 
dark. Only once in a while a lanthorn bobbed horribly through serpentine alleys on its way to 
overtake the throng that was now slipping speechlessly into the church. I waited till the crowd 
had oozed into the black doorway, and till all the stragglers had followed. The old man was 
pulling at my sleeve, but I was determined to be the last. Then I finally went, the sinister man 
and the old spinning woman before me. Crossing the threshold into that swarming temple of 
unknown darkness, I turned once to look at the outside world as the churchyard 
phosphorescence cast a sickly glow on the hill-top pavement. And as I did so I shuddered. 
For though the wind had not left much snow, a few patches did remain on the path near the 
door; and in that fleeting backward look it seemed to my troubled eyes that they bore no mark 
of passing feet, not even mine. 

The church was scarce lighted by all the lanthorns that had entered it, for most of the throng 
had already vanished. They had streamed up the aisle between the high white pews to the 
trap-door of the vaults which yawned loathsomely open just before the pulpit, and were now 

squirming noiselessly in. I followed dumbly down the footworn steps and into the dank, 
suffocating crypt. The tail of that sinuous line of night-marchers seemed very horrible, and as I 
saw them wriggling into a venerable tomb they seemed more horrible still. Then I noticed that 
the tomb's floor had an aperture down which the throng was sliding, and in a moment we 
were all descending an ominous staircase of rough-hewn stone; a narrow spiral staircase 
damp and peculiarly odorous, that wound endlessly down into the bowels of the hill past 
monotonous walls of dripping stone blocks and crumbling mortar. It was a silent, shocking 
descent, and I observed after a horrible interval that the walls and steps were changing in 
nature, as if chiselled out of the solid rock. What mainly troubled me was that the myriad 
footfalls made no sound and set up no echoes. After more aeons of descent I saw some side 
passages or burrows leading from unknown recesses of blackness to this shaft of nighted 
mystery. Soon they became excessively numerous, like impious catacombs of nameless 
menace; and their pungent odour of decay grew quite unbearable. I knew we must have 
passed down through the mountain and beneath the earth of Kingsport itself, and I shivered 
that a town should be so aged and maggoty with subterraneous evil. 

Then I saw the lurid shimmering of pale light, and heard the insidious lapping of sunless 
waters. Again I shivered, for I did not like the things that the night had brought, and wished 
bitterly that no forefather had summoned me to this primal rite. As the steps and the passage 
grew broader, I heard another sound, the thin, whining mockery of a feeble flute; and 
suddenly there spread out before me the boundless vista of an inner world — a vast fungous 
shore litten by a belching column of sick greenish flame and washed by a wide oily river that 
flowed from abysses frightful and unsuspected to join the blackest gulfs of immemorial ocean. 

Fainting and gasping, I looked at that unhallowed Erebus of titan toadstools, leprous fire, and 
slimy water, and saw the cloaked throngs forming a semicircle around the blazing pillar. It was 
the Yule-rite, older than man and fated to survive him; the primal rite of the solstice and of 
spring's promise beyond the snows; the rite of fire and evergreen, light and music. And in the 
Stygian grotto I saw them do the rite, and adore the sick pillar of flame, and throw into the 
water handfuls gouged out of the viscous vegetation which glittered green in the chlorotic 
glare. I saw this, and I saw something amorphously squatted far away from the light, piping 
noisomely on a flute; and as the thing piped I thought I heard noxious muffled flutterings in the 
foetid darkness where I could not see. But what frightened me most was that flaming column; 
spouting volcanically from depths profound and inconceivable, casting no shadows as healthy 
flame should, and coating the nitrous stone above with a nasty, venomous verdigris. For in all 
that seething combustion no warmth lay, but only the clamminess of death and corruption. 

The man who had brought me now squirmed to a point directly beside the hideous flame, and 
made stiff ceremonial motions to the semicircle he faced. At certain stages of the ritual they 
did grovelling obeisance, especially when he held above his head that abhorrent 
Necronomicon he had taken with him; and I shared all the obeisances because I had been 
summoned to this festival by the writings of my forefathers. Then the old man made a signal 
to the half-seen flute-player in the darkness, which player thereupon changed its feeble drone 
to a scarce louder drone in another key; precipitating as it did so a horror unthinkable and 
unexpected. At this horror I sank nearly to the lichened earth, transfixed with a dread not of 
this nor any world, but only of the mad spaces between the stars. 

Out of the unimaginable blackness beyond the gangrenous glare of that cold flame, out of the 
Tartarean leagues through which that oily river rolled uncanny, unheard, and unsuspected, 
there flopped rhythmically a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye 
could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether 

crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; 
but something I cannot and must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed 
feet and half with their membraneous wings; and as they reached the throng of celebrants the 
cowled figures seized and mounted them, and rode off one by one along the reaches of that 
unlighted river, into pits and galleries of panic where poison springs feed frightful and 
undiscoverable cataracts. 

The old spinning woman had gone with the throng, and the old man remained only because I 
had refused when he motioned me to seize an animal and ride like the rest. I saw when I 
staggered to my feet that the amorphous flute-player had rolled out of sight, but that two of 
the beasts were patiently standing by. As I hung back, the old man produced his stylus and 
tablet and wrote that he was the true deputy of my fathers who had founded the Yule worship 
in this ancient place; that it had been decreed I should come back, and that the most secret 
mysteries were yet to be performed. He wrote this in a very ancient hand, and when I still 
hesitated he pulled from his loose robe a seal ring and a watch, both with my family arms, to 
prove that he was what he said. But it was a hideous proof, because I knew from old papers 
that that watch had been buried with my great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1 698. 

Presently the old man drew back his hood and pointed to the family resemblance in his face, 
but I only shuddered, because I was sure that the face was merely a devilish waxen mask. 
The flopping animals were now scratching restlessly at the lichens, and I saw that the old man 
was nearly as restless himself. When one of the things began to waddle and edge away, he 
turned quickly to stop it; so that the suddenness of his motion dislodged the waxen mask from 
what should have been his head. And then, because that nightmare's position barred me from 
the stone staircase down which we had come, I flung myself into the oily underground river 
that bubbled somewhere to the caves of the sea; flung myself into that putrescent juice of 
earth's inner horrors before the madness of my screams could bring down upon me all the 
charnel legions these pest-gulfs might conceal. 

At the hospital they told me I had been found half frozen in Kingsport Harbour at dawn, 
clinging to the drifting spar that accident sent to save me. They told me I had taken the wrong 
fork of the hill road the night before, and fallen over the cliffs at Orange Point; a thing they 
deduced from prints found in the snow. There was nothing I could say, because everything 
was wrong. Everything was wrong, with the broad window shewing a sea of roofs in which 
only about one in five was ancient, and the sound of trolleys and motors in the streets below. 
They insisted that this was Kingsport, and I could not deny it. When I went delirious at hearing 
that the hospital stood near the old churchyard on Central Hill, they sent me to St. Mary's 
Hospital in Arkham, where I could have better care. I liked it there, for the doctors were broad- 
minded, and even lent me their influence in obtaining the carefully sheltered copy of 
Alhazred's objectionable Necronomicon from the library of Miskatonic University. They said 
something about a "psychosis", and agreed I had better get any harassing obsessions off my 

So I read again that hideous chapter, and shuddered doubly because it was indeed not new 
to me. I had seen it before, let footprints tell what they might; and where it was I had seen it 
were best forgotten. There was no one — in waking hours — who could remind me of it; but my 
dreams are filled with terror, because of phrases I dare not quote. I dare quote only one 
paragraph, put into such English as I can make from the awkward Low Latin. 

"The nethermost caverns," wrote the mad Arab, "are not for the fathoming of eyes 
that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific. Cursed the ground where dead 
thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. 

Wisely did Ibn Scliacabao say, tliat liappy is \he tomb wliere no wizard liatli lain, 
and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour 
that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and 
instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the 
dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great 
holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have 
learnt to walk that ought to crawl." 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Shunned House 



From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent. Sometimes it enters directly into the 
composition of the events, while sometimes it relates only to their fortuitous position among 
persons and places. The latter sort is splendidly exemplified by a case in the ancient city of 
Providence, where in the late forties Edgar Allan Poe used to sojourn often during his 
unsuccessful wooing of the gifted poetess, Mrs. Whitman. Poe generally stopped at the 
Mansion House in Benefit Street — the renamed Golden Ball Inn whose roof has sheltered 
Washington, Jefferson, and Lafayette — and his favourite walk led northward along the same 
street to Mrs. Whitman's home and the neighbouring hillside churchyard of St. John's, whose 
hidden expanse of eighteenth-century gravestones had for him a peculiar fascination. 

Now the irony is this. In this walk, so many times repeated, the world's greatest master of the 
terrible and the bizarre was obliged to pass a particular house on the eastern side of the 
street; a dingy, antiquated structure perched on the abruptly rising side-hill, with a great 
unkempt yard dating from a time when the region was partly open country. It does not appear 
that he ever wrote or spoke of it, nor is there any evidence that he even noticed it. And yet 
that house, to the two persons in possession of certain information, equals or outranks in 
horror the wildest phantasy of the genius who so often passed it unknowingly, and stands 
starkly leering as a symbol of all that is unutterably hideous. 

The house was — and for that matter still is — of a kind to attract the attention of the curious. 
Originally a farm or semi-farm building, it followed the average New England colonial lines of 
the middle eighteenth century — the prosperous peaked-roof sort, with two stories and 
dormerless attic, and with the Georgian doorway and interior panelling dictated by the 
progress of taste at that time. It faced south, with one gable end buried to the lower windows 
in the eastward rising hill, and the other exposed to the foundations toward the street. Its 
construction, over a century and a half ago, had followed the grading and straightening of the 
road in that especial vicinity; for Benefit Street — at first called Back Street — was laid out as a 
lane winding amongst the graveyards of the first settlers, and straightened only when the 
removal of the bodies to the North Burial Ground made it decently possible to cut through the 
old family plots. 

At the start, the western wall had lain some twenty feet up a precipitous lawn from the 
roadway; but a widening of the street at about the time of the Revolution sheared off most of 
the intervening space, exposing the foundations so that a brick basement wall had to be 
made, giving the deep cellar a street frontage with door and two windows above ground, 
close to the new line of public travel. When the sidewalk was laid out a century ago the last of 
the intervening space was removed; and Poe in his walks must have seen only a sheer 
ascent of dull grey brick flush with the sidewalk and surmounted at a height of ten feet by the 
antique shingled bulk of the house proper. 

The farm-like grounds extended back very deeply up the hill, almost to Wheaton Street. The 
space south of the house, abutting on Benefit Street, was of course greatly above the existing 
sidewalk level, forming a terrace bounded by a high bank wall of damp, mossy stone pierced 
by a steep flight of narrow steps which led inward between canyon-like surfaces to the upper 
region of mangy lawn, rheumy brick walls, and neglected gardens whose dismantled cement 

urns, rusted kettles fallen from tripods of knotty sticks, and similar paraphernalia set off the 
weather-beaten front door with its broken fanlight, rotting Ionic pilasters, and wormy triangular 

What I heard in my youth about the shunned house was merely that people died there in 
alarmingly great numbers. That, I was told, was why the original owners had moved out some 
twenty years after building the place. It was plainly unhealthy, perhaps because of the 
dampness and fungous growth in the cellar, the general sickish smell, the draughts of the 
hallways, or the quality of the well and pump water. These things were bad enough, and these 
were all that gained belief among the persons whom I knew. Only the notebooks of my 
antiquarian uncle. Dr. Elihu Whipple, revealed to me at length the darker, vaguer surmises 
which formed an undercurrent of folklore among old-time servants and humble folk; surmises 
which never travelled far, and which were largely forgotten when Providence grew to be a 
metropolis with a shifting modern population. 

The general fact is, that the house was never regarded by the solid part of the community as 
in any real sense "haunted". There were no widespread tales of rattling chains, cold currents 
of air, extinguished lights, or faces at the window. Extremists sometimes said the house was 
"unlucky", but that is as far as even they went. What was really beyond dispute is that a 
frightful proportion of persons died there; or more accurately, Iiad6\e6 there, since after some 
peculiar happenings over sixty years ago the building had become deserted through the 
sheer impossibility of renting it. These persons were not all cut off suddenly by any one 
cause; rather did it seem that their vitality was insidiously sapped, so that each one died the 
sooner from whatever tendency to weakness he may have naturally had. And those who did 
not die displayed in varying degree a type of anaemia or consumption, and sometimes a 
decline of the mental faculties, which spoke ill for the salubriousness of the building. 
Neighbouring houses, it must be added, seemed entirely free from the noxious quality. 

This much I knew before my insistent questioning led my uncle to shew me the notes which 
finally embarked us both on our hideous investigation. In my childhood the shunned house 
was vacant, with barren, gnarled, and terrible old trees, long, queerly pale grass, and 
nightmarishly misshapen weeds in the high terraced yard where birds never lingered. We 
boys used to overrun the place, and I can still recall my youthful terror not only at the morbid 
strangeness of this sinister vegetation, but at the eldritch atmosphere and odour of the 
dilapidated house, whose unlocked front door was often entered in quest of shudders. The 
small-paned windows were largely broken, and a nameless air of desolation hung round the 
precarious panelling, shaky interior shutters, peeling wall-paper, falling plaster, rickety 
staircases, and such fragments of battered furniture as still remained. The dust and cobwebs 
added their touch of the fearful; and brave indeed was the boy who would voluntarily ascend 
the ladder to the attic, a vast raftered length lighted only by small blinking windows in the 
gable ends, and filled with a massed wreckage of chests, chairs, and spinning-wheels which 
infinite years of deposit had shrouded and festooned into monstrous and hellish shapes. 

But after all, the attic was not the most terrible part of the house. It was the dank, humid cellar 
which somehow exerted the strongest repulsion on us, even though it was wholly above 
ground on the street side, with only a thin door and window-pierced brick wall to separate it 
from the busy sidewalk. We scarcely knew whether to haunt it in spectral fascination, or to 
shun it for the sake of our souls and our sanity. For one thing, the bad odour of the house was 
strongest there; and for another thing, we did not like the white fungous growths which 
occasionally sprang up in rainy summer weather from the hard earth floor. Those fungi, 
grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside, were truly horrible in their outlines; 

detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes, whose like we had never seen in any 
other situation. They rotted quickly, and at one stage became slightly phosphorescent; so that 
nocturnal passers-by sometimes spoke of witch-fires glowing behind the broken panes of the 
foetor-spreading windows. 

We never — even in our wildest Hallowe'en moods — visited this cellar by night, but in some of 
our daytime visits could detect the phosphorescence, especially when the day was dark and 
wet. There was also a subtler thing we often thought we detected — a very strange thing which 
was, however, merely suggestive at most. I refer to a sort of cloudy whitish pattern on the dirt 
floor — a vague, shifting deposit of mould or nitre which we sometimes thought we could trace 
amidst the sparse fungous growths near the huge fireplace of the basement kitchen. Once in 
a while it struck us that this patch bore an uncanny resemblance to a doubled-up human 
figure, though generally no such kinship existed, and often there was no whitish deposit 
whatever. On a certain rainy afternoon when this illusion seemed phenomenally strong, and 
when, in addition, I had fancied I glimpsed a kind of thin, yellowish, shimmering exhalation 
rising from the nitrous pattern toward the yawning fireplace, I spoke to my uncle about the 
matter. He smiled at this odd conceit, but it seemed that his smile was tinged with 
reminiscence. Later I heard that a similar notion entered into some of the wild ancient tales of 
the common folk — a notion likewise alluding to ghoulish, wolfish shapes taken by smoke from 
the great chimney, and queer contours assumed by certain of the sinuous tree-roots that 
thrust their way into the cellar through the loose foundation-stones. 


Not till my adult years did my uncle set before me the notes and data which he had collected 
concerning the shunned house. Dr. Whipple was a sane, conservative physician of the old 
school, and for all his interest in the place was not eager to encourage young thoughts toward 
the abnormal. His own view, postulating simply a building and location of markedly unsanitary 
qualities, had nothing to do with abnormality; but he realised that the very picturesqueness 
which aroused his own interest would in a boy's fanciful mind take on all manner of gruesome 
imaginative associations. 

The doctor was a bachelor; a white-haired, clean-shaven, old-fashioned gentleman, and a 
local historian of note, who had often broken a lance with such controversial guardians of 
tradition as Sidney S. Rider and Thomas W. Bicknell. He lived with one manservant in a 
Georgian homestead with knocker and iron-railed steps, balanced eerily on a steep ascent of 
North Court Street beside the ancient brick court and colony house where his grandfather — a 
cousin of that celebrated privateersman, Capt. Whipple, who burnt His Majesty's armed 
schooner Gaspee in 1772 — had voted in the legislature on May 4, 1776, for the independence 
of the Rhode Island Colony. Around him in the damp, low-ceiled library with the musty white 
panelling, heavy carved overmantel, and small-paned, vine-shaded windows, were the relics 
and records of his ancient family, among which were many dubious allusions to the shunned 
house in Benefit Street. That pest spot lies not far distant — for Benefit runs ledgewise just 
above the court-house along the precipitous hill up which the first settlement climbed. 

When, in the end, my insistent pestering and maturing years evoked from my uncle the 
hoarded lore I sought, there lay before me a strange enough chronicle. Long-winded, 
statistical, and drearily genealogical as some of the matter was, there ran through it a 
continuous thread of brooding, tenacious horror and preternatural malevolence which 
impressed me even more than it had impressed the good doctor. Separate events fitted 
together uncannily, and seemingly irrelevant details held mines of hideous possibilities. A new 
and burning curiosity grew in me, compared to which my boyish curiosity was feeble and 

inchoate. The first revelation led to an exhaustive research, and finally to that shuddering 
quest which proved so disastrous to myself and mine. For at last my uncle insisted on joining 
the search I had commenced, and after a certain night in that house he did not come away 
with me. I am lonely without that gentle soul whose long years were filled only with honour, 
virtue, good taste, benevolence, and learning. I have reared a marble urn to his memory in St. 
John's churchyard — the place that Poe loved — the hidden grove of giant willows on the hill, 
where tombs and headstones huddle quietly between the hoary bulk of the church and the 
houses and bank walls of Benefit Street. 

The history of the house, opening amidst a maze of dates, revealed no trace of the sinister 
either about its construction or about the prosperous and honourable family who built it. Yet 
from the first a taint of calamity, soon increased to boding significance, was apparent. My 
uncle's carefully compiled record began with the building of the structure in 1763, and 
followed the theme with an unusual amount of detail. The shunned house, it seems, was first 
inhabited by William Harris and his wife Rhoby Dexter, with their children, Elkanah, born in 
1755, Abigail, born in 1757, William, Jr., born in 1759, and Ruth, born in 1761. Harris was a 
substantial merchant and seaman in the West India trade, connected with the firm of Obadiah 
Brown and his nephews. After Brown's death in 1761, the new firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. 
made him master of the brig Prudence, Providence-built, of 120 tons, thus enabling him to 
erect the new homestead he had desired ever since his marriage. 

The site he had chosen — a recently straightened part of the new and fashionable Back Street, 
which ran along the side of the hill above crowded Cheapside — was all that could be wished, 
and the building did justice to the location. It was the best that moderate means could afford, 
and Harris hastened to move in before the birth of a fifth child which the family expected. That 
child, a boy, came in December; but was still-born. Nor was any child to be born alive in that 
house for a century and a half. 

The next April sickness occurred among the children, and Abigail and Ruth died before the 
month was over. Dr. Job Ives diagnosed the trouble as some infantile fever, though others 
declared it was more of a mere wasting-away or decline. It seemed, in any event, to be 
contagious; for Hannah Bowen, one of the two servants, died of it in the following June. Eli 
Liddeason, the other servant, constantly complained of weakness; and would have returned 
to his father's farm in Rehoboth but for a sudden attachment for Mehitabel Pierce, who was 
hired to succeed Hannah. He died the next year — a sad year indeed, since it marked the 
death of William Harris himself, enfeebled as he was by the climate of IVIartinique, where his 
occupation had kept him for considerable periods during the preceding decade. 

The widowed Rhoby Harris never recovered from the shock of her husband's death, and the 
passing of her first-born Elkanah two years later was the final blow to her reason. In 1 768 she 
fell victim to a mild form of insanity, and was thereafter confined to the upper part of the 
house; her elder maiden sister, IVIercy Dexter, having moved in to take charge of the family. 
Mercy was a plain, raw-boned woman of great strength; but her health visibly declined from 
the time of her advent. She was greatly devoted to her unfortunate sister, and had an especial 
affection for her only surviving nephew William, who from a sturdy infant had become a sickly, 
spindling lad. In this year the servant Mehitabel died, and the other servant. Preserved Smith, 
left without coherent explanation — or at least, with only some wild tales and a complaint that 
he disliked the smell of the place. For a time Mercy could secure no more help, since the 
seven deaths and case of madness, all occurring within five years' space, had begun to set in 
motion the body of fireside rumour which later became so bizarre. Ultimately, however, she 
obtained new servants from out of town; Ann White, a morose woman from that part of North 

Kingstown now set off as the township of Exeter, and a capable Boston man named Zenas 

It was Ann White who first gave definite shape to the sinister idle talk. Mercy should have 
known better than to hire anyone from the Nooseneck Hill country, for that remote bit of 
backwoods was then, as now, a seat of the most uncomfortable superstitions. As lately as 
1892 an Exeter community exhumed a dead body and ceremoniously burnt its heart in order 
to prevent certain alleged visitations injurious to the public health and peace, and one may 
imagine the point of view of the same section in 1768. Ann's tongue was perniciously active, 
and within a few months Mercy discharged her, filling her place with a faithful and amiable 
Amazon from Newport, Maria Bobbins. 

Meanwhile poor Rhoby Harris, in her madness, gave voice to dreams and imaginings of the 
most hideous sort. At times her screams became insupportable, and for long periods she 
would utter shrieking horrors which necessitated her son's temporary residence with his 
cousin, Peleg Harris, in Presbyterian-Lane near the new college building. The boy would 
seem to improve after these visits, and had Mercy been as wise as she was well-meaning, 
she would have let him live permanently with Peleg. Just what Mrs. Harris cried out in her fits 
of violence, tradition hesitates to say; or rather, presents such extravagant accounts that they 
nullify themselves through sheer absurdity. Certainly it sounds absurd to hear that a woman 
educated only in the rudiments of French often shouted for hours in a coarse and idiomatic 
form of that language, or that the same person, alone and guarded, complained wildly of a 
staring thing which bit and chewed at her. In 1772 the servant Zenas died, and when Mrs. 
Harris heard of it she laughed with a shocking delight utterly foreign to her. The next year she 
herself died, and was laid to rest in the North Burial Ground beside her husband. 

Upon the outbreak of trouble with Great Britain in 1775, William Harris, despite his scant 
sixteen years and feeble constitution, managed to enlist in the Army of Observation under 
General Greene; and from that time on enjoyed a steady rise in health and prestige. In 1780, 
as a Captain in Rhode Island forces in New Jersey under Colonel Angell, he met and married 
Phebe Hetfield of Elizabethtown, whom he brought to Providence upon his honourable 
discharge in the following year. 

The young soldier's return was not a thing of unmitigated happiness. The house, it is true, 
was still in good condition; and the street had been widened and changed in name from Back 
Street to Benefit Street. But Mercy Dexter's once robust frame had undergone a sad and 
curious decay, so that she was now a stooped and pathetic figure with hollow voice and 
disconcerting pallor — qualities shared to a singular degree by the one remaining servant 
Maria. In the autumn of 1782 Phebe Harris gave birth to a still-born daughter, and on the 
fifteenth of the next May Mercy Dexter took leave of a useful, austere, and virtuous life. 

William Harris, at last thoroughly convinced of the radically unhealthful nature of his abode, 
now took steps toward quitting it and closing it forever. Securing temporary quarters for 
himself and his wife at the newly opened Golden Ball Inn, he arranged for the building of a 
new and finer house in Westminster Street, in the growing part of the town across the Great 
Bridge. There, in 1785, his son Dutee was born; and there the family dwelt till the 
encroachments of commerce drove them back across the river and over the hill to Angell 
Street, in the newer East Side residence district, where the late Archer Harris built his 
sumptuous but hideous French-roofed mansion in 1876. William and Phebe both succumbed 
to the yellow fever epidemic of 1797, but Dutee was brought up by his cousin Rathbone 
Harris, Peleg's son. 

Rathbone was a practical man, and rented the Benefit Street liouse despite William's wish to 
keep it vacant. He considered it an obligation to his ward to make the most of all the boy's 
property, nor did he concern himself with the deaths and illnesses which caused so many 
changes of tenants, or the steadily growing aversion with which the house was generally 
regarded. It is likely that he felt only vexation when, in 1804, the town council ordered him to 
fumigate the place with sulphur, tar, and gum camphor on account of the much-discussed 
deaths of four persons, presumably caused by the then diminishing fever epidemic. They said 
the place had a febrile smell. 

Dutee himself thought little of the house, for he grew up to be a privateersman, and served 
with distinction on the Vigilant under Capt. Cahoone in the War of 1812. He returned 
unharmed, married in 1814, and became a father on that memorable night of September 23, 
1815, when a great gale drove the waters of the bay over half the town, and floated a tall 
sloop well up Westminster Street so that its masts almost tapped the Harris windows in 
symbolic affirmation that the new boy, Welcome, was a seaman's son. 

Welcome did not survive his father, but lived to perish gloriously at Fredericksburg in 1862. 
Neither he nor his son Archer knew of the shunned house as other than a nuisance almost 
impossible to rent — perhaps on account of the mustiness and sickly odour of unkempt old 
age. Indeed, it never was rented after a series of deaths culminating in 1 861 , which the 
excitement of the war tended to throw into obscurity. Carrington Harris, last of the male line, 
knew it only as a deserted and somewhat picturesque centre of legend until I told him my 
experience. He had meant to tear it down and build an apartment house on the site, but after 
my account decided to let it stand, install plumbing, and rent it. Nor has he yet had any 
difficulty in obtaining tenants. The horror has gone. 


It may well be imagined how powerfully I was affected by the annals of the Harrises. In this 
continuous record there seemed to me to brood a persistent evil beyond anything in Nature 
as I had known it; an evil clearly connected with the house and not with the family. This 
impression was confirmed by my uncle's less systematic array of miscellaneous data — 
legends transcribed from servant gossip, cuttings from the papers, copies of death-certificates 
by fellow-physicians, and the like. All of this material I cannot hope to give, for my uncle was a 
tireless antiquarian and very deeply interested in the shunned house; but I may refer to 
several dominant points which earn notice by their recurrence through many reports from 
diverse sources. For example, the servant gossip was practically unanimous in attributing to 
the fungous and malodorous cellar oi the house a vast supremacy in evil influence. There had 
been servants — Ann White especially — who would not use the cellar kitchen, and at least 
three well-defined legends bore upon the queer quasi-human or diabolic outlines assumed by 
tree-roots and patches of mould in that region. These latter narratives interested me 
profoundly, on account of what I had seen in my boyhood, but I felt that most of the 
significance had in each case been largely obscured by additions from the common stock of 
local ghost lore. 

Ann White, with her Exeter superstition, had promulgated the most extravagant and at the 
same time most consistent tale; alleging that there must lie buried beneath the house one of 
those vampires — the dead who retain their bodily form and live on the blood or breath of the 
living — whose hideous legions send their preying shapes or spirits abroad by night. To destroy 
a vampire one must, the grandmothers say, exhume it and burn its heart, or at least drive a 
stake through that organ; and Ann's dogged insistence on a search under the cellar had been 
prominent in bringing about her discharge. 

Her tales, however, commanded a wide audience, and were tine more readily accepted 
because the house Indeed stood on land once used for burial purposes. To me their interest 
depended less on this circumstance than on the peculiarly appropriate way in which they 
dovetailed with certain other things — the complaint of the departing servant Preserved Smith, 
who had preceded Ann and never heard of her, that something "sucked his breath" at night; 
the death -certificates of fever victims of 1804, issued by Dr. Chad Hopkins, and shewing the 
four deceased persons all unaccountably lacking in blood; and the obscure passages of poor 
Rhoby Harris's ravings, where she complained of the sharp teeth of a glassy-eyed, half-visible 

Free from unwarranted superstition though I am, these things produced in me an odd 
sensation, which was intensified by a pair of widely separated newspaper cuttings relating to 
deaths in the shunned house — one from the Providence Gazette and Country-Journal oi April 
12, 181 5, and the other from the Daily Transcript and Chronicle of October 27, 1 845 — each of 
which detailed an appallingly grisly circumstance whose duplication was remarkable. It seems 
that in both instances the dying person, in 1815 a gentle old lady named Stafford and in 1845 
a school-teacher of middle age named Eleazar Durfee, became transfigured in a horrible way; 
glaring glassily and attempting to bite the throat of the attending physician. Even more 
puzzling, though, was the final case which put an end to the renting of the house — a series of 
anaemia deaths preceded by progressive madnesses wherein the patient would craftily 
attempt the lives of his relatives by incisions in the neck or wrist. 

This was in 1860 and 1861 , when my uncle had just begun his medical practice; and before 
leaving for the front he heard much of it from his elder professional colleagues. The really 
inexplicable thing was the way in which the victims — ignorant people, for the ill-smelling and 
widely shunned house could now be rented to no others — would babble maledictions in 
French, a language they could not possibly have studied to any extent. It made one think of 
poor Rhoby Harris nearly a century before, and so moved my uncle that he commenced 
collecting historical data on the house after listening, some time subsequent to his return from 
the war, to the first-hand account of Drs. Chase and Whitmarsh. Indeed, I could see that my 
uncle had thought deeply on the subject, and that he was glad of my own interest — an open- 
minded and sympathetic interest which enabled him to discuss with me matters at which 
others would merely have laughed. His fancy had not gone so far as mine, but he felt that the 
place was rare in its imaginative potentialities, and worthy of note as an inspiration in the field 
of the grotesque and macabre. 

For my part, I was disposed to take the whole subject with profound seriousness, and began 
at once not only to review the evidence, but to accumulate as much more as I could. I talked 
with the elderly Archer Harris, then owner of the house, many times before his death in 1916; 
and obtained from him and his still surviving maiden sister Alice an authentic corroboration of 
all the family data my uncle had collected. When, however, I asked them what connexion with 
France or its language the house could have, they confessed themselves as frankly baffled 
and ignorant as I. Archer knew nothing, and all that IVIiss Harris could say was that an old 
allusion her grandfather, Dutee Harris, had heard of might have shed a little light. The old 
seaman, who had survived his son Welcome's death in battle by two years, had not himself 
known the legend; but recalled that his earliest nurse, the ancient Maria Robbins, seemed 
darkly aware of something that might have lent a weird significance to the French ravings of 
Rhoby Harris, which she had so often heard during the last days of that hapless woman. 
IVIaria had been at the shunned house from 1769 till the removal of the family in 1783, and 
had seen IVIercy Dexter die. Once she hinted to the child Dutee of a somewhat peculiar 

circumstance in Mercy's last moments, but lie liad soon forgotten all about it save that it was 
something peculiar. The granddaughter, moreover, recalled even this much with difficulty. She 
and her brother were not so much interested in the house as was Archer's son Carrington, the 
present owner, with whom I talked after my experience. 

Having exhausted the Harris family of all the information it could furnish, I turned my attention 
to early town records and deeds with a zeal more penetrating than that which my uncle had 
occasionally shewn in the same work. What I wished was a comprehensive history of the site 
from its very settlement in 1636 — or even before, if any Narragansett Indian legend could be 
unearthed to supply the data. I found, at the start, that the land had been part of the long strip 
of home lot granted originally to John Throckmorton; one of many similar strips beginning at 
the Town Street beside the river and extending up over the hill to a line roughly corresponding 
with the modern Hope Street. The Throckmorton lot had later, of course, been much 
subdivided; and I became very assiduous in tracing that section through which Back or 
Benefit Street was later run. It had, a rumour indeed said, been the Throckmorton graveyard; 
but as I examined the records more carefully, I found that the graves had all been transferred 
at an early date to the North Burial Ground on the Pawtucket West Road. 

Then suddenly I came — by a rare piece of chance, since it was not in the main body of 
records and might easily have been missed — upon something which aroused my keenest 
eagerness, fitting in as it did with several of the queerest phases of the affair. It was the 
record of a lease, in 1697, of a small tract of ground to an Etienne Roulet and wife. At last the 
French element had appeared — that, and another deeper element of horror which the name 
conjured up from the darkest recesses of my weird and heterogeneous reading — and I 
feverishly studied the platting of the locality as it had been before the cutting through and 
partial straightening of Back Street between 1747 and 1758. I found what I had half expected, 
that where the shunned house now stood the Roulets had laid out their graveyard behind a 
one-story and attic cottage, and that no record of any transfer of graves existed. The 
document, indeed, ended in much confusion; and I was forced to ransack both the Rhode 
Island Historical Society and Shepley Library before I could find a local door which the name 
Etienne Roulet would unlock. In the end I did find something; something of such vague but 
monstrous import that I set about at once to examine the cellar of the shunned house itself 
with a new and excited minuteness. 

The Roulets, it seemed, had come in 1696 from East Greenwich, down the west shore of 
Narragansett Bay. They were Huguenots from Gaude, and had encountered much opposition 
before the Providence selectmen allowed them to settle in the town. Unpopularity had dogged 
them in East Greenwich, whither they had come in 1686, after the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, and rumour said that the cause of dislike extended beyond mere racial and national 
prejudice, or the land disputes which involved other French settlers with the English in 
rivalries which not even Governor Andros could quell. But their ardent Protestantism — too 
ardent, some whispered — and their evident distress when virtually driven from the village 
down the bay, had moved the sympathy of the town fathers. Here the strangers had been 
granted a haven; and the swarthy Etienne Roulet, less apt at agriculture than at reading queer 
books and drawing queer diagrams, was given a clerical post in the warehouse at Pardon 
Tillinghast's wharf, far south in Town Street. There had, however, been a riot of some sort later 
on — perhaps forty years later, after old Rou let's death — and no one seemed to hear of the 
family after that. 

For a century and more, it appeared, the Roulets had been well remembered and frequently 
discussed as vivid incidents in the quiet life of a New England seaport. Etienne's son Paul, a 

surly fellow whose erratic conduct had probably provoked the riot which wiped out the family, 
was particularly a source of speculation; and though Providence never shared the witchcraft 
panics of her Puritan neighbours, it was freely intimated by old wives that his prayers were 
neither uttered at the proper time nor directed toward the proper object. All this had 
undoubtedly formed the basis of the legend known by old Maria Robbins. What relation it had 
to the French ravings of Rhoby Harris and other inhabitants of the shunned house, 
imagination or future discovery alone could determine. I wondered how many of those who 
had known the legends realised that additional link with the terrible which my wide reading 
had given me; that ominous item in the annals of morbid horror which tells of the creature 
Jacques Roulet, ofCaude, who in 1 598 was condemned to death as a daemoniac but 
afterward saved from the stake by the Paris parliament and shut in a madhouse. He had been 
found covered with blood and shreds of flesh in a wood, shortly after the killing and rending of 
a boy by a pair of wolves. One wolf was seen to lope away unhurt. Surely a pretty hearthside 
tale, with a queer significance as to name and place; but I decided that the Providence 
gossips could not have generally known of it. Had they known, the coincidence of names 
would have brought some drastic and frightened action — indeed, might not its limited 
whispering have precipitated the final riot which erased the Roulets from the town? 

I now visited the accursed place with increased frequency; studying the unwholesome 
vegetation of the garden, examining all the walls of the building, and poring over every inch of 
the earthen cellar floor. Finally, with Carrington Harris's permission, I fitted a key to the 
disused door opening from the cellar directly upon Benefit Street, preferring to have a more 
immediate access to the outside world than the dark stairs, ground floor hall, and front door 
could give. There, where morbidity lurked most thickly, I searched and poked during long 
afternoons when the sunlight filtered in through the cobwebbed above-ground windows, and a 
sense of security glowed from the unlocked door which placed me only a few feet from the 
placid sidewalk outside. Nothing new rewarded my efforts — only the same depressing 
mustiness and faint suggestions of noxious odours and nitrous outlines on the floor — and I 
fancy that many pedestrians must have watched me curiously through the broken panes. 

At length, upon a suggestion of my uncle's, I decided to try the spot nocturnally; and one 
stormy midnight ran the beams of an electric torch over the mouldy floor with its uncanny 
shapes and distorted, half-phosphorescent fungi. The place had dispirited me curiously that 
evening, and I was almost prepared when I saw — or thought I saw — amidst the whitish 
deposits a particularly sharp definition of the "huddled form" I had suspected from boyhood. 
Its clearness was astonishing and unprecedented — and as I watched I seemed to see again 
the thin, yellowish, shimmering exhalation which had startled me on that rainy afternoon so 
many years before. 

Above the anthropomorphic patch of mould by the fireplace it rose; a subtle, sickish, almost 
luminous vapour which as it hung trembling in the dampness seemed to develop vague and 
shocking suggestions of form, gradually trailing off into nebulous decay and passing up into 
the blackness of the great chimney with a foetor in its wake. It was truly horrible, and the more 
so to me because of what I knew of the spot. Refusing to flee, I watched it fade — and as I 
watched I felt that it was in turn watching me greedily with eyes more imaginable than visible. 
When I told my uncle about it he was greatly aroused; and after a tense hour of reflection, 
arrived at a definite and drastic decision. Weighing in his mind the importance of the matter, 
and the significance of our relation to it, he insisted that we both test — and if possible 
destroy — the horror of the house by a joint night or nights of aggressive vigil in that musty and 
fungus-cursed cellar. 


On Wednesday, June 25, 1919, after a proper notification of Carrington Harris wliicli did not 
include surmises as to wliat we expected to find, my uncle and I conveyed to the shunned 
house two camp chairs and a folding camp cot, together with some scientific mechanism of 
greater weight and intricacy. These we placed in the cellar during the day, screening the 
windows with paper and planning to return in the evening for our first vigil. We had locked the 
door from the cellar to the ground floor; and having a key to the outside cellar door, we were 
prepared to leave our expensive and delicate apparatus — which we had obtained secretly and 
at great cost — as many days as our vigils might need to be protracted. It was our design to sit 
up together till very late, and then watch singly till dawn in two-hour stretches, myself first and 
then my companion; the inactive member resting on the cot. 

The natural leadership with which my uncle procured the instruments from the laboratories of 
Brown University and the Cranston Street Armoury, and instinctively assumed direction of our 
venture, was a marvellous commentary on the potential vitality and resilience of a man of 
eighty-one. Elihu Whipple had lived according to the hygienic laws he had preached as a 
physician, and but for what happened later would be here in full vigour today. Only two 
persons suspect what did happen — Carrington Harris and myself. I had to tell Harris because 
he owned the house and deserved to know what had gone out of it. Then too, we had spoken 
to him in advance of our quest; and I felt after my uncle's going that he would understand and 
assist me in some vitally necessary public explanations. He turned very pale, but agreed to 
help me, and decided that it would now be safe to rent the house. 

To declare that we were not nervous on that rainy night of watching would be an exaggeration 
both gross and ridiculous. We were not, as I have said, in any sense childishly superstitious, 
but scientific study and reflection had taught us that the known universe of three dimensions 
embraces the merest fraction of the whole cosmos of substance and energy. In this case an 
overwhelming preponderance of evidence from numerous authentic sources pointed to the 
tenacious existence of certain forces of great power and, so far as the human point of view is 
concerned, exceptional malignancy. To say that we actually believed in vampires or 
werewolves would be a carelessly inclusive statement. Rather must it be said that we were 
not prepared to deny the possibility of certain unfamiliar and unclassified modifications of vital 
force and attenuated matter; existing very infrequently in three-dimensional space because of 
its more intimate connexion with other spatial units, yet close enough to the boundary of our 
own to furnish us occasional manifestations which we, for lack of a proper vantage-point, may 
never hope to understand. 

In short, it seemed to my uncle and me that an incontrovertible array of facts pointed to some 
lingering influence in the shunned house; traceable to one or another of the ill-favoured 
French settlers of two centuries before, and still operative through rare and unknown laws of 
atomic and electronic motion. That the family of Roulet had possessed an abnormal affinity for 
outer circles of entity — dark spheres which for normal folk hold only repulsion and terror — 
their recorded history seemed to prove. Had not, then, the riots of those bygone seventeen- 
thirties set moving certain kinetic patterns in the morbid brain of one or more of them — notably 
the sinister Paul Roulet — which obscurely survived the bodies murdered and buried by the 
mob, and continued to function in some multiple-dimensioned space along the original lines of 
force determined by a frantic hatred of the encroaching community? 

Such a thing was surely not a physical or biochemical impossibility in the light of a newer 
science which includes the theories of relativity and intra-atomic action. One might easily 
imagine an alien nucleus of substance or energy, formless or otherwise, kept alive by 

imperceptible or immaterial subtractions from the life-force or bodily tissues and fluids of other 
and more palpably living things into which it penetrates and with whose fabric it sometimes 
completely merges itself. It might be actively hostile, or it might be dictated merely by blind 
motives of self-preservation. In any case such a monster must of necessity be in our scheme 
of things an anomaly and an intruder, whose extirpation forms a primary duty with every man 
not an enemy to the world's life, health, and sanity. 

What baffled us was our utter ignorance of the aspect in which we might encounter the thing. 
No sane person had even seen it, and few had ever felt it definitely. It might be pure energy — 
a form ethereal and outside the realm of substance — or it might be partly material; some 
unknown and equivocal mass of plasticity, capable of changing at will to nebulous 
approximations of the solid, liquid, gaseous, or tenuously unparticled states. The 
anthropomorphic patch of mould on the floor, the form of the yellowish vapour, and the 
curvature of the tree-roots in some of the old tales, all argued at least a remote and 
reminiscent connexion with the human shape; but how representative or permanent that 
similarity might be, none could say with any kind of certainty. 

We had devised two weapons to fight it; a large and specially fitted Crookes tube operated by 
powerful storage batteries and provided with peculiar screens and reflectors, in case it proved 
intangible and opposable only by vigorously destructive ether radiations, and a pair of military 
flame-throwers of the sort used in the world-war, in case it proved partly material and 
susceptible of mechanical destruction — for like the superstitious Exeter rustics, we were 
prepared to burn the thing's heart out if heart existed to burn. All this aggressive mechanism 
we set in the cellar in positions carefully arranged with reference to the cot and chairs, and to 
the spot before the fireplace where the mould had taken strange shapes. That suggestive 
patch, by the way, was only faintly visible when we placed our furniture and instruments, and 
when we returned that evening for the actual vigil. For a moment I half doubted that I had ever 
seen it in the more definitely limned form — but then I thought of the legends. 

Our cellar vigil began at 10 p.m., daylight saving time, and as it continued we found no 
promise of pertinent developments. A weak, filtered glow from the rain-harassed street-lamps 
outside, and a feeble phosphorescence from the detestable fungi within, shewed the dripping 
stone of the walls, from which all traces of whitewash had vanished; the dank, foetid, and 
mildew-tainted hard earth floor with its obscene fungi; the rotting remains of what had been 
stools, chairs, and tables, and other more shapeless furniture; the heavy planks and massive 
beams of the ground floor overhead; the decrepit plank door leading to bins and chambers 
beneath other parts of the house; the crumbling stone staircase with ruined wooden hand-rail; 
and the crude and cavernous fireplace of blackened brick where rusted iron fragments 
revealed the past presence of hooks, andirons, spit, crane, and a door to the Dutch oven — 
these things, and our austere cot and camp chairs, and the heavy and intricate destructive 
machinery we had brought. 

We had, as in my own former explorations, left the door to the street unlocked; so that a direct 
and practical path of escape might lie open in case of manifestations beyond our power to 
deal with. It was our idea that our continued nocturnal presence would call forth whatever 
malign entity lurked there; and that being prepared, we could dispose of the thing with one or 
the other of our provided means as soon as we had recognised and observed it sufficiently. 
How long it might require to evoke and extinguish the thing, we had no notion. It occurred to 
us, too, that our venture was far from safe; for in what strength the thing might appear no one 
could tell. But we deemed the game worth the hazard, and embarked on it alone and 
unhesitatingly; conscious that the seeking of outside aid would only expose us to ridicule and 

perhaps defeat our entire purpose. Such was our frame of mind as we tallied — far into the 
night, till my uncle's growing drowsiness made me remind him to lie down for his two-hour 

Something like fear chilled me as I sat there in the small hours alone — I say alone, for one 
who sits by a sleeper is indeed alone; perhaps more alone than he can realise. My uncle 
breathed heavily, his deep inhalations and exhalations accompanied by the rain outside, and 
punctuated by another nerve-racking sound of distant dripping water within — for the house 
was repulsively damp even in dry weather, and in this storm positively swamp-like. I studied 
the loose, antique masonry of the walls in the fungus-light and the feeble rays which stole in 
from the street through the screened windows; and once, when the noisome atmosphere of 
the place seemed about to sicken me, I opened the door and looked up and down the street, 
feasting my eyes on familiar sights and my nostrils on the wholesome air. Still nothing 
occurred to reward my watching; and I yawned repeatedly, fatigue getting the better of 

Then the stirring of my uncle in his sleep attracted my notice. He had turned restlessly on the 
cot several times during the latter half of the first hour, but now he was breathing with unusual 
irregularity, occasionally heaving a sigh which held more than a few of the qualities of a 
choking moan. I turned my electric flashlight on him and found his face averted, so rising and 
crossing to the other side of the cot, I again flashed the light to see if he seemed in any pain. 
What I saw unnerved me most surprisingly, considering its relative triviality. It must have been 
merely the association of any odd circumstance with the sinister nature of our location and 
mission, for surely the circumstance was not in itself frightful or unnatural. It was merely that 
my uncle's facial expression, disturbed no doubt by the strange dreams which our situation 
prompted, betrayed considerable agitation, and seemed not at all characteristic of him. His 
habitual expression was one of kindly and well-bred calm, whereas now a variety of emotions 
seemed struggling within him. I think, on the whole, that it was this var/efy which chiefly 
disturbed me. My uncle, as he gasped and tossed in increasing perturbation and with eyes 
that had now started open, seemed not one but many men, and suggested a curious quality 
of alienage from himself. 

All at once he commenced to mutter, and I did not like the look of his mouth and teeth as he 
spoke. The words were at first indistinguishable, and then — with a tremendous start — I 
recognised something about them which filled me with icy fear till I recalled the breadth of my 
uncle's education and the interminable translations he had made from anthropological and 
antiquarian articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes. For the venerable Elihu Whipple was 
muttering in French, and the few phrases I could distinguish seemed connected with the 
darkest myths he had ever adapted from the famous Paris magazine. 

Suddenly a perspiration broke out on the sleeper's forehead, and he leaped abruptly up, half 
awake. The jumble of French changed to a cry in English, and the hoarse voice shouted 
excitedly, "My breath, my breath!" Then the awakening became complete, and with a 
subsidence of facial expression to the normal state my uncle seized my hand and began to 
relate a dream whose nucleus of significance I could only surmise with a kind of awe. 

He had, he said, floated off from a very ordinary series of dream-pictures into a scene whose 
strangeness was related to nothing he had ever read. It was of this world, and yet not of it — a 
shadowy geometrical confusion in which could be seen elements of familiar things in most 
unfamiliar and perturbing combinations. There was a suggestion of queerly disordered 
pictures superimposed one upon another; an arrangement in which the essentials of time as 
well as of space seemed dissolved and mixed in the most illogical fashion. In this 

kaleidoscopic vortex of pliantasmal images were occasional snapshots, if one might use the 
term, of singular clearness but unaccountable heterogeneity. 

Once my uncle thought he lay in a carelessly dug open pit, with a crowd of angry faces 
framed by straggling locks and three-cornered hats frowning down on him. Again he seemed 
to be in the interior of a house — an old house, apparently — but the details and inhabitants 
were constantly changing, and he could never be certain of the faces or the furniture, or even 
of the room itself, since doors and windows seemed in just as great a state of flux as the more 
presumably mobile objects. It was queer — damnably queer — and my uncle spoke almost 
sheepishly, as if half expecting not to be believed, when he declared that of the strange faces 
many had unmistakably borne the features of the Harris family. And all the while there was a 
personal sensation of choking, as if some pervasive presence had spread itself through his 
body and sought to possess itself of his vital processes. I shuddered at the thought of those 
vital processes, worn as they were by eighty-one years of continuous functioning, in conflict 
with unknown forces of which the youngest and strongest system might well be afraid; but in 
another moment reflected that dreams are only dreams, and that these uncomfortable visions 
could be, at most, no more than my uncle's reaction to the investigations and expectations 
which had lately filled our minds to the exclusion of all else. 

Conversation, also, soon tended to dispel my sense of strangeness; and in time I yielded to 
my yawns and took my turn at slumber. My uncle seemed now very wakeful, and welcomed 
his period of watching even though the nightmare had aroused him far ahead of his allotted 
two hours. Sleep seized me quickly, and I was at once haunted with dreams of the most 
disturbing kind. I felt, in my visions, a cosmic and abysmal loneness; with hostility surging 
from all sides upon some prison where I lay confined. I seemed bound and gagged, and 
taunted by the echoing yells of distant multitudes who thirsted for my blood. My uncle's face 
came to me with less pleasant associations than in waking hours, and I recall many futile 
struggles and attempts to scream. It was not a pleasant sleep, and for a second I was not 
sorry for the echoing shriek which clove through the barriers of dream and flung me to a sharp 
and startled awakeness in which every actual object before my eyes stood out with more than 
natural clearness and reality. 


I had been lying with my face away from my uncle's chair, so that in this sudden flash of 
awakening I saw only the door to the street, the more northerly window, and the wall and floor 
and ceiling toward the north of the room, all photographed with morbid vividness on my brain 
in a light brighter than the glow of the fungi or the rays from the street outside. It was not a 
strong or even a fairly strong light; certainly not nearly strong enough to read an average book 
by. But it cast a shadow of myself and the cot on the floor, and had a yellowish, penetrating 
force that hinted at things more potent than luminosity. This I perceived with unhealthy 
sharpness despite the fact that two of my other senses were violently assailed. For on my 
ears rang the reverberations of that shocking scream, while my nostrils revolted at the stench 
which filled the place. My mind, as alert as my senses, recognised the gravely unusual; and 
almost automatically I leaped up and turned about to grasp the destructive instruments which 
we had left trained on the mouldy spot before the fireplace. As I turned, I dreaded what I was 
to see; for the scream had been in my uncle's voice, and I knew not against what menace I 
should have to defend him and myself. 

Yet after all, the sight was worse than I had dreaded. There are horrors beyond horrors, and 
this was one of those nuclei of all dreamable hideousness which the cosmos saves to blast 
an accursed and unhappy few. Out of the fungus-ridden earth steamed up a vaporous corpse- 

light, yellow and diseased, which bubbled and lapped to a gigantic height in vague outlines 
half-human and half-monstrous, through which I could see the chimney and fireplace beyond. 
It was all eyes — wolfish and mocking — and the rugose insect-like head dissolved at the top to 
a thin stream of mist which curled putridly about and finally vanished up the chimney. I say 
that I saw this thing, but it is only in conscious retrospection that I ever definitely traced its 
damnable approach to form. At the time it was to me only a seething, dimly phosphorescent 
cloud of fungous loathsomeness, enveloping and dissolving to an abhorrent plasticity the one 
object to which all my attention was focussed. That object was my uncle — the venerable Elihu 
Whipple — who with blackening and decaying features leered and gibbered at me, and 
reached out dripping claws to rend me in the fury which this horror had brought. 

It was a sense of routine which kept me from going mad. I had drilled myself in preparation for 
the crucial moment, and blind training saved me. Recognising the bubbling evil as no 
substance reachable by matter or material chemistry, and therefore ignoring the flame-thrower 
which loomed on my left, I threw on the current of the Crookes tube apparatus, and focussed 
toward that scene of immortal blasphemousness the strongest ether radiations which man's 
art can arouse from the spaces and fluids of Nature. There was a bluish haze and a frenzied 
sputtering, and the yellowish phosphorescence grew dimmer to my eyes. But I saw the 
dimness was only that of contrast, and that the waves from the machine had no effect 

Then, in the midst of that daemoniac spectacle, I saw a fresh horror which brought cries to my 
lips and sent me fumbling and staggering toward that unlocked door to the quiet street, 
careless of what abnormal terrors I loosed upon the world, or what thoughts or judgments of 
men I brought down upon my head. In that dim blend of blue and yellow the form of my uncle 
had commenced a nauseous liquefaction whose essence eludes all description, and in which 
there played across his vanishing face such changes of identity as only madness can 
conceive. He was at once a devil and a multitude, a charnel-house and a pageant. Lit by the 
mixed and uncertain beams, that gelatinous face assumed a dozen — a score — a hundred — 
aspects; grinning, as it sank to the ground on a body that melted like tallow, in the caricatured 
likeness of legions strange and yet not strange. 

I saw the features of the Harris line, masculine and feminine, adult and infantile, and other 
features old and young, coarse and refined, familiar and unfamiliar. For a second there 
flashed a degraded counterfeit of a miniature of poor mad Rhoby Harris that I had seen in the 
School of Design Museum, and another time I thought I caught the raw-boned image of Mercy 
Dexter as I recalled her from a painting in Carrington Harris's house, it was frightful beyond 
conception; toward the last, when a curious blend of servant and baby visages flickered close 
to the fungous floor where a pool of greenish grease was spreading, it seemed as though the 
shifting features fought against themselves, and strove to form contours like those of my 
uncle's kindly face. I like to think that he existed at that moment, and that he tried to bid me 
farewell. It seems to me I hiccoughed a farewell from my own parched throat as I lurched out 
into the street; a thin stream of grease following me through the door to the rain-drenched 

The rest is shadowy and monstrous. There was no one in the soaking street, and in all the 
world there was no one I dared tell. I walked aimlessly south past College Hill and the 
Athenaeum, down Hopkins Street, and over the bridge to the business section where tall 
buildings seemed to guard me as modern material things guard the world from ancient and 
unwholesome wonder. Then grey dawn unfolded wetly from the east, silhouetting the archaic 
hill and its venerable steeples, and beckoning me to the place where my terrible work was still 

unfinished. And in tine end I went, wet, liatless, and dazed in tine morning liglit, and entered 
that awful door in Benefit Street which I had left ajar, and which still swung cryptically in full 
sight of the early householders to whom I dared not speak. 

The grease was gone, for the mouldy floor was porous. And in front of the fireplace was no 
vestige of the giant doubled-up form in nitre. I looked at the cot, the chairs, the instruments, 
my neglected hat, and the yellowed straw hat of my uncle. Dazedness was uppermost, and I 
could scarcely recall what was dream and what was reality. Then thought trickled back, and I 
knew that I had witnessed things more horrible than I had dreamed. Sitting down, I tried to 
conjecture as nearly as sanity would let me just what had happened, and how I might end the 
horror, if indeed it had been real. Matter it seemed not to be, nor ether, nor anything else 
conceivable by mortal mind. What, then, but some exotic emanation; some vampirish vapour 
such as Exeter rustics tell of as lurking over certain churchyards? This I felt was the clue, and 
again I looked at the floor before the fireplace where the mould and nitre had taken strange 
forms. In ten minutes my mind was made up, and taking my hat I set out for home, where I 
bathed, ate, and gave by telephone an order for a pickaxe, a spade, a military gas-mask, and 
six carboys of sulphuric acid, all to be delivered the next morning at the cellar door of the 
shunned house in Benefit Street. After that I tried to sleep; and failing, passed the hours in 
reading and in the composition of inane verses to counteract my mood. 

At 1 1 a.m. the next day I commenced digging. It was sunny weather, and I was glad of that. I 
was still alone, for as much as I feared the unknown horror I sought, there was more fear in 
the thought of telling anybody. Later I told Harris only through sheer necessity, and because 
he had heard odd tales from old people which disposed him ever so little toward belief. As I 
turned up the stinking black earth in front of the fireplace, my spade causing a viscous yellow 
ichor to ooze from the white fungi which it severed, I trembled at the dubious thoughts of what 
I might uncover. Some secrets of inner earth are not good for mankind, and this seemed to 
me one of them. 

My hand shook perceptibly, but still I delved; after a while standing in the large hole I had 
made. With the deepening of the hole, which was about six feet square, the evil smell 
increased; and I lost all doubt of my imminent contact with the hellish thing whose emanations 
had cursed the house for over a century and a half. I wondered what it would look like — what 
its form and substance would be, and how big it might have waxed through long ages of life- 
sucking. At length I climbed out of the hole and dispersed the heaped-up dirt, then arranging 
the great carboys of acid around and near two sides, so that when necessary I might empty 
them all down the aperture in quick succession. After that I dumped earth only along the other 
two sides; working more slowly and donning my gas-mask as the smell grew. I was nearly 
unnerved at my proximity to a nameless thing at the bottom of a pit. 

Suddenly my spade struck something softer than earth. I shuddered, and made a motion as if 
to climb out of the hole, which was now as deep as my neck. Then courage returned, and I 
scraped away more dirt in the light of the electric torch I had provided. The surface I 
uncovered was fishy and glassy — a kind of semi-putrid congealed jelly with suggestions of 
translucency. I scraped further, and saw that it had form. There was a rift where a part of the 
substance was folded over. The exposed area was huge and roughly cylindrical; like a 
mammoth soft blue-white stovepipe doubled in two, its largest part some two feet in diameter. 
Still more I scraped, and then abruptly I leaped out of the hole and away from the filthy thing; 
frantically unstopping and tilting the heavy carboys, and precipitating their corrosive contents 
one after another down that charnel gulf and upon the unthinkable abnormality whose titan 
elbow I had seen. 

The blinding maelstrom of greenish-yellow vapour which surged tempestuously up from that 
hole as the floods of acid descended, will never leave my memory. All along the hill people tell 
of the yellow day, when virulent and horrible fumes arose from the factory waste dumped in 
the Providence River, but I know how mistaken they are as to the source. They tell, too, of the 
hideous roar which at the same time came from some disordered water-pipe or gas main 
underground — but again I could correct them if I dared. It was unspeakably shocking, and I do 
not see how I lived through It. I did faint after emptying the fourth carboy, which I had to 
handle after the fumes had begun to penetrate my mask; but when I recovered I saw that the 
hole was emitting no fresh vapours. 

The two remaining carboys I emptied down without particular result, and after a time I felt it 
safe to shovel the earth back into the pit. It was twilight before I was done, but fear had gone 
out of the place. The dampness was less foetid, and all the strange fungi had withered to a 
kind of harmless greyish powder which blew ash-like along the floor. One of earth's 
nethermost terrors had perished forever; and if there be a hell, it had received at last the 
daemon soul of an unhallowed thing. And as I patted down the last spadeful of mould, I shed 
the first of the many tears with which I have paid unaffected tribute to my beloved uncle's 

The next spring no more pale grass and strange weeds came up in the shunned house's 
terraced garden, and shortly afterward Carrington Harris rented the place. It is still spectral, 
but its strangeness fascinates me, and I shall find mixed with my relief a queer regret when it 
is torn down to make way for a tawdry shop or vulgar apartment building. The barren old trees 
in the yard have begun to bear small, sweet apples, and last year the birds nested in their 
gnarled boughs. 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Horror at Red Hook 


"There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to 
my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and 
dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of 
evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead." 

— Arthur Machen. 


Not many weeks ago, on a street corner in the village of Pascoag, Rhode Island, a tall, 
heavily built, and wholesome-looking pedestrian furnished much speculation by a singular 
lapse of behaviour. He had, it appears, been descending the hill by the road from Chepachet; 
and encountering the compact section, had turned to his left into the main thoroughfare where 
several modest business blocks convey a touch of the urban. At this point, without visible 
provocation, he committed his astonishing lapse; staring queerly for a second at the tallest of 
the buildings before him, and then, with a series of terrified, hysterical shrieks, breaking into a 
frantic run which ended in a stumble and fall at the next crossing. Picked up and dusted off by 
ready hands, he was found to be conscious, organically unhurt, and evidently cured of his 
sudden nervous attack. He muttered some shamefaced explanations involving a strain he had 
undergone, and with downcast glance turned back up the Chepachet road, trudging out of 
sight without once looking behind him. It was a strange incident to befall so large, robust, 
normal-featured, and capable-looking a man, and the strangeness was not lessened by the 
remarks of a bystander who had recognised him as the boarder of a well-known dairyman on 
the outskirts of Chepachet. 

He was, it developed, a New York police detective named Thomas F. Malone, now on a long 
leave of absence under medical treatment after some disproportionately arduous work on a 
gruesome local case which accident had made dramatic. There had been a collapse of 
several old brick buildings during a raid in which he had shared, and something about the 
wholesale loss of life, both of prisoners and of his companions, had peculiarly appalled him. 
As a result, he had acquired an acute and anomalous horror of any buildings even remotely 
suggesting the ones which had fallen in, so that in the end mental specialists forbade him the 
sight of such things for an indefinite period. A police surgeon with relatives in Chepachet had 
put forward that quaint hamlet of wooden colonial houses as an ideal spot for the 
psychological convalescence; and thither the sufferer had gone, promising never to venture 
among the brick-lined streets of larger villages till duly advised by the Woonsocket specialist 
with whom he was put in touch. This walk to Pascoag for magazines had been a mistake, and 
the patient had paid in fright, bruises, and humiliation for his disobedience. 

So much the gossips of Chepachet and Pascoag knew; and so much, also, the most learned 
specialists believed. But Malone had at first told the specialists much more, ceasing only 
when he saw that utter incredulity was his portion. Thereafter he held his peace, protesting 
not at all when it was generally agreed that the collapse of certain squalid brick houses in the 
Red Hook section of Brooklyn, and the consequent death of many brave officers, had 
unseated his nervous equilibrium. He had worked too hard, all said, in trying to clean up those 
nests of disorder and violence; certain features were shocking enough, in all conscience, and 
the unexpected tragedy was the last straw. This was a simple explanation which everyone 

could understand, and because Malone was not a simple person he perceived that he had 
better let it suffice. To hint to unimaginative people of a horror beyond all human conception — 
a horror of houses and blocks and cities leprous and cancerous with evil dragged from elder 
worlds — would be merely to invite a padded cell instead of restful rustication, and IVIalone was 
a man of sense despite his mysticism. He had the Celt's far vision of weird and hidden things, 
but the logician's quick eye for the outwardly unconvincing; an amalgam which had led him far 
afield in the forty-two years of his life, and set him in strange places for a Dublin University 
man born in a Georgian villa near Phoenix Park. 

And now, as he reviewed the things he had seen and felt and apprehended, IVIalone was 
content to keep unshared the secret of what could reduce a dauntless fighter to a quivering 
neurotic; what could make old brick slums and seas of dark, subtle faces a thing of nightmare 
and eldritch portent. It would not be the first time his sensations had been forced to bide 
uninterpreted — for was not his very act of plunging into the polyglot abyss of New York's 
underworld a freak beyond sensible explanation? What could he tell the prosaic of the antique 
witcheries and grotesque marvels discernible to sensitive eyes amidst the poison cauldron 
where all the varied dregs of unwholesome ages mix their venom and perpetuate their 
obscene terrors? He had seen the hellish green flame of secret wonder in this blatant, 
evasive welter of outward greed and inward blasphemy, and had smiled gently when all the 
New-Yorkers he knew scoffed at his experiment in police work. They had been very witty and 
cynical, deriding his fantastic pursuit of unknowable mysteries and assuring him that in these 
days New York held nothing but cheapness and vulgarity. One of them had wagered him a 
heavy sum that he could not — despite many poignant things to his credit in the Dublin 
Review— e\/er\ write a truly interesting story of New York low life; and now, looking back, he 
perceived that cosmic irony had justified the prophet's words while secretly confuting their 
flippant meaning. The horror, as glimpsed at last, could not make a story — for like the book 
cited by Foe's German authority, "es lasst sicli niclit lesen — it does not permit itself to be 


To IVIalone the sense of latent mystery in existence was always present. In youth he had felt 
the hidden beauty and ecstasy of things, and had been a poet; but poverty and sorrow and 
exile had turned his gaze in darker directions, and he had thrilled at the imputations of evil in 
the world around. Daily life had for him come to be a phantasmagoria of macabre shadow- 
studies; now glittering and leering with concealed rottenness as in Beardsley's best manner, 
now hinting terrors behind the commonest shapes and objects as in the subtler and less 
obvious work of Gustave Dore. He would often regard it as merciful that most persons of high 
intelligence jeer at the inmost mysteries; for, he argued, if superior minds were ever placed in 
fullest contact with the secrets preserved by ancient and lowly cults, the resultant 
abnormalities would soon not only wreck the world, but threaten the very integrity of the 
universe. All this reflection was no doubt morbid, but keen logic and a deep sense of humour 
ably offset it. Malone was satisfied to let his notions remain as half-spied and forbidden 
visions to be lightly played with; and hysteria came only when duty flung him into a hell of 
revelation too sudden and insidious to escape. 

He had for some time been detailed to the Butler Street station in Brooklyn when the Red 
Hook matter came to his notice. Red Hook is a maze of hybrid squalor near the ancient 
waterfront opposite Governor's Island, with dirty highways climbing the hill from the wharves 
to that higher ground where the decayed lengths of Clinton and Court Streets lead off toward 
the Borough Hall. Its houses are mostly of brick, dating from the first quarter to the middle of 

the nineteenth century, and some of the obscurer alleys and byways have that alluring 
antique flavour which conventional reading leads us to call "Dickensian". The population is a 
hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon 
one another, and fragments of Scandinavian and American belts lying not far distant. It is a 
babel of sound and filth, and sends out strange cries to answer the lapping of oily waves at its 
grimy piers and the monstrous organ litanies of the harbour whistles. Here long ago a brighter 
picture dwelt, with clear-eyed mariners on the lower streets and homes of taste and 
substance where the larger houses line the hill. One can trace the relics of this former 
happiness in the trim shapes of the buildings, the occasional graceful churches, and the 
evidences of original art and background in bits of detail here and there — a worn flight of 
steps, a battered doorway, a wormy pair of decorative columns or pilasters, or a fragment of 
once green space with bent and rusted iron railing. The houses are generally in solid blocks, 
and now and then a many-windowed cupola arises to tell of days when the households of 
captains and ship-owners watched the sea. 

From this tangle of material and spiritual putrescence the blasphemies of an hundred dialects 
assail the sky. Hordes of prowlers reel shouting and singing along the lanes and 
thoroughfares, occasional furtive hands suddenly extinguish lights and pull down curtains, 
and swarthy, sin-pitted faces disappear from windows when visitors pick their way through. 
Policemen despair of order or reform, and seek rather to erect barriers protecting the outside 
world from the contagion. The clang of the patrol is answered by a kind of spectral silence, 
and such prisoners as are taken are never communicative. Visible offences are as varied as 
the local dialects, and run the gamut from the smuggling of rum and prohibited aliens through 
diverse stages of lawlessness and obscure vice to murder and mutilation in their most 
abhorrent guises. That these visible affairs are not more frequent is not to the 
neighbourhood's credit, unless the power of concealment be an art demanding credit. IVIore 
people enter Red Hook than leave it — or at least, than leave it by the landward side — and 
those who are not loquacious are the likeliest to leave. 

Malone found in this state of things a faint stench of secrets more terrible than any of the sins 
denounced by citizens and bemoaned by priests and philanthropists. He was conscious, as 
one who united imagination with scientific knowledge, that modern people under lawless 
conditions tend uncannily to repeat the darkest instinctive patterns of primitive half-ape 
savagery in their daily life and ritual observances; and he had often viewed with an 
anthropologist's shudder the chanting, cursing processions of blear-eyed and pockmarked 
young men which wound their way along in the dark small hours of morning. One saw groups 
of these youths incessantly; sometimes in leering vigils on street corners, sometimes in 
doorways playing eerily on cheap instruments of music, sometimes in stupefied dozes or 
indecent dialogues around cafeteria tables near Borough Hall, and sometimes in whispering 
converse around dingy taxicabs drawn up at the high stoops of crumbling and closely 
shuttered old houses. They chilled and fascinated him more than he dared confess to his 
associates on the force, for he seemed to see in them some monstrous thread of secret 
continuity; some fiendish, cryptical, and ancient pattern utterly beyond and below the sordid 
mass of facts and habits and haunts listed with such conscientious technical care by the 
police. They must be, he felt inwardly, the heirs of some shocking and primordial tradition; the 
sharers of debased and broken scraps from cults and ceremonies older than mankind. Their 
coherence and definiteness suggested it, and it shewed in the singular suspicion of order 
which lurked beneath their squalid disorder. He had not read in vain such treatises as Miss 
Murray's Witch-Cult in Western Europe; and knew that up to recent years there had certainly 
survived among peasants and furtive folk a frightful and clandestine system of assemblies 

and orgies descended from dark religions antedating tine Aryan world, and appearing in 
popular legends as Black Masses and Witches' Sabbaths. That these hellish vestiges of old 
Turanian-Asiatic magic and fertility-cults were even now wholly dead he could not for a 
moment suppose, and he frequently wondered how much older and how much blacker than 
the very worst of the muttered tales some of them might really be. 


It was the case of Robert Suydam which took IVIalone to the heart of things in Red Hook. 
Suydam was a lettered recluse of ancient Dutch family, possessed originally of barely 
independent means, and inhabiting the spacious but ill-preserved mansion which his 
grandfather had built in Flatbush when that village was little more than a pleasant group of 
colonial cottages surrounding the steepled and ivy-clad Reformed Church with its iron-railed 
yard of Netherlandish gravestones. In his lonely house, set back from Martense Street amidst 
a yard of venerable trees, Suydam had read and brooded for some six decades except for a 
period a generation before, when he had sailed for the old world and remained there out of 
sight for eight years. He could afford no servants, and would admit but few visitors to his 
absolute solitude; eschewing close friendships and receiving his rare acquaintances in one of 
the three ground-floor rooms which he kept in order — a vast, high-ceiled library whose walls 
were solidly packed with tattered books of ponderous, archaic, and vaguely repellent aspect. 
The growth of the town and its final absorption in the Brooklyn district had meant nothing to 
Suydam, and he had come to mean less and less to the town. Elderly people still pointed him 
out on the streets, but to most of the recent population he was merely a queer, corpulent old 
fellow whose unkempt white hair, stubbly beard, shiny black clothes, and gold-headed cane 
earned him an amused glance and nothing more. IVIalone did not know him by sight till duty 
called him to the case, but had heard of him indirectly as a really profound authority on 
mediaeval superstition, and had once idly meant to look up an out-of-print pamphlet of his on 
the Kabbalah and the Faustus legend, which a friend had quoted from memory. 

Suydam became a "case" when his distant and only relatives sought court pronouncements 
on his sanity. Their action seemed sudden to the outside world, but was really undertaken 
only after prolonged observation and sorrowful debate. It was based on certain odd changes 
in his speech and habits; wild references to impending wonders, and unaccountable 
hauntings of disreputable Brooklyn neighbourhoods. He had been growing shabbier and 
shabbier with the years, and now prowled about like a veritable mendicant; seen occasionally 
by humiliated friends in subway stations, or loitering on the benches around Borough Hall in 
conversation with groups of swarthy, evil-looking strangers. When he spoke it was to babble 
of unlimited powers almost within his grasp, and to repeat with knowing leers such mystical 
words or names as "Sephiroth", "Ashmodai", and "Samael". The court action revealed that he 
was using up his income and wasting his principal in the purchase of curious tomes imported 
from London and Paris, and in the maintenance of a squalid basement flat in the Red Hook 
district where he spent nearly every night, receiving odd delegations of mixed rowdies and 
foreigners, and apparently conducting some kind of ceremonial service behind the green 
blinds of secretive windows. Detectives assigned to follow him reported strange cries and 
chants and prancing of feet filtering out from these nocturnal rites, and shuddered at their 
peculiar ecstasy and abandon despite the commonness of weird orgies in that sodden 
section. When, however, the matter came to a hearing, Suydam managed to preserve his 
liberty. Before the judge his manner grew urbane and reasonable, and he freely admitted the 
queerness of demeanour and extravagant cast of language into which he had fallen through 
excessive devotion to study and research. He was, he said, engaged in the investigation of 

certain details of European tradition wliicli required tine closest contact with foreign groups 
and their songs and folk dances. The notion that any low secret society was preying upon 
him, as hinted by his relatives, was obviously absurd; and shewed how sadly limited was their 
understanding of him and his work. Triumphing with his calm explanations, he was suffered to 
depart unhindered; and the paid detectives of the Suydams, Corlears, and Van Brunts were 
withdrawn in resigned disgust. 

It was here that an alliance of Federal inspectors and police, Malone with them, entered the 
case. The law had watched the Suydam action with interest, and had in many instances been 
called upon to aid the private detectives. In this work it developed that Suydam's new 
associates were among the blackest and most vicious criminals of Red Hook's devious lanes, 
and that at least a third of them were known and repeated offenders in the matter of thievery, 
disorder, and the importation of illegal immigrants. Indeed, it would not have been too much to 
say that the old scholar's particular circle coincided almost perfectly with the worst of the 
organised cliques which smuggled ashore certain nameless and unclassified Asian dregs 
wisely turned back by Ellis Island. In the teeming rookeries of Parker Place — since 
renamed — where Suydam had his basement flat, there had grown up a very unusual colony 
of unclassified slant-eyed folk who used the Arabic alphabet but were eloquently repudiated 
by the great mass of Syrians in and around Atlantic Avenue. They could all have been 
deported for lack of credentials, but legalism is slow-moving, and one does not disturb Red 
Hook unless publicity forces one to. 

These creatures attended a tumbledown stone church, used Wednesdays as a dance-hall, 
which reared its Gothic buttresses near the vilest part of the waterfront. It was nominally 
Catholic; but priests throughout Brooklyn denied the place all standing and authenticity, and 
policemen agreed with them when they listened to the noises it emitted at night. Malone used 
to fancy he heard terrible cracked bass notes from a hidden organ far underground when the 
church stood empty and unlighted, whilst all observers dreaded the shrieking and drumming 
which accompanied the visible services. Suydam, when questioned, said he thought the ritual 
was some remnant of Nestorian Christianity tinctured with the Shamanism of Thibet. Most of 
the people, he conjectured, were of Mongoloid stock, originating somewhere in or near 
Kurdistan — and Malone could not help recalling that Kurdistan is the land of the Yezidis, last 
survivors of the Persian devil-worshippers. However this may have been, the stir of the 
Suydam investigation made it certain that these unauthorised newcomers were flooding Red 
Hook in increasing numbers; entering through some marine conspiracy unreached by 
revenue officers and harbour police, overrunning Parker Place and rapidly spreading up the 
hill, and welcomed with curious fraternalism by the other assorted denizens of the region. 
Their squat figures and characteristic squinting physiognomies, grotesquely combined with 
flashy American clothing, appeared more and more numerously among the loafers and 
nomad gangsters of the Borough Hall section; till at length it was deemed necessary to 
compute their numbers, ascertain their sources and occupations, and find if possible a way to 
round them up and deliver them to the proper immigration authorities. To this task Malone was 
assigned by agreement of Federal and city forces, and as he commenced his canvass of Red 
Hook he felt poised upon the brink of nameless terrors, with the shabby, unkempt figure of 
Robert Suydam as arch-fiend and adversary. 


Police methods are varied and ingenious. Malone, through unostentatious rambles, carefully 
casual conversations, well-timed offers of hip-pocket liquor, and judicious dialogues with 
frightened prisoners, learned many isolated facts about the movement whose aspect had 

become so menacing. The newcomers were indeed Kurds, but of a dialect obscure and 
puzzling to exact philology. Such of them as worked lived mostly as dock-hands and 
unllcenced pedlars, though frequently serving in Greek restaurants and tending corner news 
stands. Most of them, however, had no visible means of support; and were obviously 
connected with underworld pursuits, of which smuggling and "bootlegging" were the least 
indescribable. They had come in steamships, apparently tramp freighters, and had been 
unloaded by stealth on moonless nights in rowboats which stole under a certain wharf and 
followed a hidden canal to a secret subterranean pool beneath a house. This wharf, canal, 
and house Malone could not locate, for the memories of his informants were exceedingly 
confused, while their speech was to a great extent beyond even the ablest interpreters; nor 
could he gain any real data on the reasons for their systematic importation. They were reticent 
about the exact spot from which they had come, and were never sufficiently off guard to 
reveal the agencies which had sought them out and directed their course. Indeed, they 
developed something like acute fright when asked the reasons for their presence. Gangsters 
of other breeds were equally taciturn, and the most that could be gathered was that some god 
or great priesthood had promised them unheard-of powers and supernatural glories and 
rulerships in a strange land. 

The attendance of both newcomers and old gangsters at Suydam's closely guarded nocturnal 
meetings was very regular, and the police soon learned that the erstwhile recluse had leased 
additional flats to accommodate such guests as knew his password; at last occupying three 
entire houses and permanently harbouring many of his queer companions. He spent but little 
time now at his Flatbush home, apparently going and coming only to obtain and return books; 
and his face and manner had attained an appalling pitch of wildness. Malone twice 
interviewed him, but was each time brusquely repulsed. He knew nothing, he said, of any 
mysterious plots or movements; and had no idea how the Kurds could have entered or what 
they wanted. His business was to study undisturbed the folklore of all the immigrants of the 
district; a business with which policemen had no legitimate concern. Malone mentioned his 
admiration for Suydam's old brochure on the Kabbalah and other myths, but the old man's 
softening was only momentary. He sensed an intrusion, and rebuffed his visitor in no 
uncertain way; till Malone withdrew disgusted, and turned to other channels of information. 

What Malone would have unearthed could he have worked continuously on the case, we shall 
never know. As it was, a stupid conflict between city and Federal authority suspended the 
investigations for several months, during which the detective was busy with other 
assignments. But at no time did he lose interest, or fail to stand amazed at what began to 
happen to Robert Suydam. Just at the time when a wave of kidnappings and disappearances 
spread its excitement over New York, the unkempt scholar embarked upon a metamorphosis 
as startling as it was absurd. One day he was seen near Borough Hall with clean-shaved 
face, well-trimmed hair, and tastefully immaculate attire, and on every day thereafter some 
obscure improvement was noticed in him. He maintained his new fastidiousness without 
interruption, added to it an unwonted sparkle of eye and crispness of speech, and began little 
by little to shed the corpulence which had so long deformed him. Now frequently taken for 
less than his age, he acquired an elasticity of step and buoyancy of demeanour to match the 
new tradition, and shewed a curious darkening of the hair which somehow did not suggest 
dye. As the months passed, he commenced to dress less and less conservatively, and finally 
astonished his new friends by renovating and redecorating his Flatbush mansion, which he 
threw open in a series of receptions, summoning all the acquaintances he could remember, 
and extending a special welcome to the fully forgiven relatives who had so lately sought his 
restraint. Some attended through curiosity, others through duty; but all were suddenly 

charmed by the dawning grace and urbanity of the former hermit. He had, he asserted, 
accomplished most of his allotted work; and having just Inherited some property from a half- 
forgotten European friend, was about to spend his remaining years in a brighter second youth 
which ease, care, and diet had made possible to him. Less and less was he seen at Red 
Hook, and more and more did he move In the society to which he was born. Policemen noted 
a tendency of the gangsters to congregate at the old stone church and dance-hall Instead of 
at the basement flat In Parker Place, though the latter and Its recent annexes still overflowed 
with noxious life. 

Then two incidents occurred — wide enough apart, but both of intense interest in the case as 
Malone envisaged It. One was a quiet announcement In the Eagle of Robert Suydam's 
engagement to Miss Cornelia Gerrltsen of Bayslde, a young woman of excellent position, and 
distantly related to the elderly bridegroom-elect; whilst the other was a raid on the dance-hall 
church by city police, after a report that the face of a kidnapped child had been seen for a 
second at one of the basement windows. Malone had participated in this raid, and studied the 
place with much care when Inside. Nothing was found — In fact, the building was entirely 
deserted when visited — but the sensitive Celt was vaguely disturbed by many things about 
the Interior. There were crudely painted panels he did not like — panels which depicted sacred 
faces with peculiarly worldly and sardonic expressions, and which occasionally took liberties 
that even a layman's sense of decorum could scarcely countenance. Then, too, he did not 
relish the Greek inscription on the wall above the pulpit; an ancient Incantation which he had 
once stumbled upon In Dublin college days, and which read, literally translated, 

"O friend and companion of night, thou who rejolcest in the baying of dogs and spilt 
blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who longest for 
blood and bringest terror to mortals. Gorge, Mormo, thousand-faced moon, look 
favourably on our sacrifices!" 

When he read this he shuddered, and thought vaguely of the cracked bass organ notes he 
fancied he had heard beneath the church on certain nights. He shuddered again at the rust 
around the rim of a metal basin which stood on the altar, and paused nervously when his 
nostrils seemed to detect a curious and ghastly stench from somewhere In the 
neighbourhood. That organ memory haunted him, and he explored the basement with 
particular assiduity before he left. The place was very hateful to him; yet after all, were the 
blasphemous panels and inscriptions more than mere crudities perpetrated by the Ignorant? 

By the time of Suydam's wedding the kidnapping epidemic had become a popular newspaper 
scandal. Most of the victims were young children of the lowest classes, but the Increasing 
number of disappearances had worked up a sentiment of the strongest fury. Journals 
clamoured for action from the police, and once more the Butler Street station sent Its men 
over Red Hook for clues, discoveries, and criminals. Malone was glad to be on the trail again, 
and took pride in a raid on one of Suydam's Parker Place houses. There, Indeed, no stolen 
child was found, despite the tales of screams and the red sash picked up In the areaway; but 
the paintings and rough inscriptions on the peeling walls of most of the rooms, and the 
primitive chemical laboratory in the attic, all helped to convince the detective that he was on 
the track of something tremendous. The paintings were appalling — hideous monsters of every 
shape and size, and parodies on human outlines which cannot be described. The writing was 
In red, and varied from Arabic to Greek, Roman, and Hebrew letters. Malone could not read 
much of It, but what he did decipher was portentous and cabbalistic enough. One frequently 

repeated motto was in a sort of Hebraised Hellenistic Greek, and suggested the most terrible 
daemon-evocations of the Alexandrian decadence: 


Circles and pentagrams loomed on every hand, and told indubitably of the strange beliefs and 
aspirations of those who dwelt so squalidly here. In the cellar, however, the strangest thing 
was found — a pile of genuine gold ingots covered carelessly with a piece of burlap, and 
bearing upon their shining surfaces the same weird hieroglyphics which also adorned the 
walls. During the raid the police encountered only a passive resistance from the squinting 
Orientals that swarmed from every door. Finding nothing relevant, they had to leave all as it 
was; but the precinct captain wrote Suydam a note advising him to look closely to the 
character of his tenants and proteges in view of the growing public clamour. 


Then came the June wedding and the great sensation. Flatbush was gay for the hour about 
high noon, and pennanted motors thronged the streets near the old Dutch church where an 
awning stretched from door to highway. No local event ever surpassed the Suydam-Gerritsen 
nuptials in tone and scale, and the party which escorted bride and groom to the Cunard Pier 
was, if not exactly the smartest, at least a solid page from the Social Register. At five o'clock 
adieux were waved, and the ponderous liner edged away from the long pier, slowly turned its 
nose seaward, discarded its tug, and headed for the widening water spaces that led to old 
world wonders. By night the outer harbour was cleared, and late passengers watched the 
stars twinkling above an unpolluted ocean. 

Whether the tramp steamer or the scream was first to gain attention, no one can say. 
Probably they were simultaneous, but it is of no use to calculate. The scream came from the 
Suydam stateroom, and the sailor who broke down the door could perhaps have told frightful 
things if he had not forthwith gone completely mad — as it is, he shrieked more loudly than the 
first victims, and thereafter ran simpering about the vessel till caught and put in irons. The 
ship's doctor who entered the stateroom and turned on the lights a moment later did not go 
mad, but told nobody what he saw till afterward, when he corresponded with Malone in 
Chepachet. It was murder — strangulation — but one need not say that the claw-mark on Mrs. 
Suydam's throat could not have come from her husband's or any other human hand, or that 
upon the white wall there flickered for an instant in hateful red a legend which, later copied 
from memory, seems to have been nothing less than the fearsome Chaldee letters of the 
word "LILITH". One need not mention these things because they vanished so quickly — as for 
Suydam, one could at least bar others from the room until one knew what to think oneself. 
The doctor has distinctly assured Malone that he did not see IT. The open porthole, just 
before he turned on the lights, was clouded for a second with a certain phosphorescence, and 
for a moment there seemed to echo in the night outside the suggestion of a faint and hellish 
tittering; but no real outline met the eye. As proof, the doctor points to his continued sanity. 

Then the tramp steamer claimed all attention. A boat put off, and a horde of swart, insolent 
ruffians in officers' dress swarmed aboard the temporarily halted Cunarder. They wanted 
Suydam or his body — they had known of his trip, and for certain reasons were sure he would 
die. The captain's deck was almost a pandemonium; for at the instant, between the doctor's 
report from the stateroom and the demands of the men from the tramp, not even the wisest 

and gravest seaman could think what to do. Suddenly the leader of the visiting mariners, an 
Arab with a hatefully negroid mouth, pulled forth a dirty, crumpled paper and handed it to the 
captain. It was signed by Robert Suydam, and bore the following odd message: 

"In case of sudden or unexplained accident or death on my part, please deliver me 
or my body unquestioningly into the hands of the bearer and his associates. 
Everything, for me, and perhaps for you, depends on absolute compliance. 
Explanations can come later — do not fail me now. 


Captain and doctor looked at each other, and the latter whispered something to the former. 
Finally they nodded rather helplessly and led the way to the Suydam stateroom. The doctor 
directed the captain's glance away as he unlocked the door and admitted the strange 
seamen, nor did he breathe easily till they filed out with their burden after an unaccountably 
long period of preparation. It was wrapped in bedding from the berths, and the doctor was 
glad that the outlines were not very revealing. Somehow the men got the thing over the side 
and away to their tramp steamer without uncovering it. The Cunarder started again, and the 
doctor and a ship's undertaker sought out the Suydam stateroom to perform what last 
services they could. Once more the physician was forced to reticence and even to mendacity, 
for a hellish thing had happened. When the undertaker asked him why he had drained off all 
of Mrs. Suydam's blood, he neglected to affirm that he had not done so; nor did he point to 
the vacant bottle-spaces on the rack, or to the odour in the sink which shewed the hasty 
disposition of the bottles' original contents. The pockets of those men — if men they were — had 
bulged damnably when they left the ship. Two hours later, and the world knew by radio all that 
it ought to know of the horrible affair. 


That same June evening, without having heard a word from the sea, Malone was desperately 
busy among the alleys of Red Hook. A sudden stir seemed to permeate the place, and as if 
apprised by "grapevine telegraph" of something singular, the denizens clustered expectantly 
around the dance-hall church and the houses in Parker Place. Three children had just 
disappeared — blue-eyed Norwegians from the streets toward Gowanus — and there were 
rumours of a mob forming among the sturdy Vikings of that section. Malone had for weeks 
been urging his colleagues to attempt a general cleanup; and at last, moved by conditions 
more obvious to their common sense than the conjectures of a Dublin dreamer, they had 
agreed upon a final stroke. The unrest and menace of this evening had been the deciding 
factor, and just about midnight a raiding party recruited from three stations descended upon 
Parker Place and its environs. Doors were battered in, stragglers arrested, and candlelighted 
rooms forced to disgorge unbelievable throngs of mixed foreigners in figured robes, mitres, 
and other inexplicable devices. Much was lost in the melee, for objects were thrown hastily 
down unexpected shafts, and betraying odours deadened by the sudden kindling of pungent 
incense. But spattered blood was everywhere, and Malone shuddered whenever he saw a 
brazier or altar from which the smoke was still rising. 

He wanted to be in several places at once, and decided on Suydam's basement flat only after 
a messenger had reported the complete emptiness of the dilapidated dance-hall church. The 
flat, he thought, must hold some clue to a cult of which the occult scholar had so obviously 
become the centre and leader; and it was with real expectancy that he ransacked the musty 
rooms, noted their vaguely charnel odour, and examined the curious books, instruments, gold 

ingots, and glass-stoppered bottles scattered carelessly here and there. Once a lean, black- 
and-white cat edged between his feet and tripped him, overturning at the same time a beaker 
half full of a red liquid. The shock was severe, and to this day IVIalone is not certain of what he 
saw; but in dreams he still pictures that cat as it scuttled away with certain monstrous 
alterations and peculiarities. Then came the locked cellar door, and the search for something 
to break it down. A heavy stool stood near, and its tough seat was more than enough for the 
antique panels. A crack formed and enlarged, and the whole door gave way — but from the 
other side; whence poured a howling tumult of ice-cold wind with all the stenches of the 
bottomless pit, and whence reached a sucking force not of earth or heaven, which, coiling 
sentiently about the paralysed detective, dragged him through the aperture and down 
unmeasured spaces filled with whispers and wails, and gusts of mocking laughter. 

Of course it was a dream. All the specialists have told him so, and he has nothing to prove the 
contrary. Indeed, he would rather have it thus; for then the sight of old brick slums and dark 
foreign faces would not eat so deeply into his soul. But at the time it was all horribly real, and 
nothing can ever efface the memory of those nighted crypts, those titan arcades, and those 
half-formed shapes of hell that strode gigantically in silence holding half-eaten things whose 
still surviving portions screamed for mercy or laughed with madness. Odours of incense and 
corruption joined in sickening concert, and the black air was alive with the cloudy, semi-visible 
bulk of shapeless elemental things with eyes. Somewhere dark sticky water was lapping at 
onyx piers, and once the shivery tinkle of raucous little bells pealed out to greet the insane 
titter of a naked phosphorescent thing which swam into sight, scrambled ashore, and climbed 
up to squat leeringly on a carved golden pedestal in the background. 

Avenues of limitless night seemed to radiate in every direction, till one might fancy that here 
lay the root of a contagion destined to sicken and swallow cities, and engulf nations in the 
foetor of hybrid pestilence. Here cosmic sin had entered, and festered by unhallowed rites 
had commenced the grinning march of death that was to rot us all to fungous abnormalities 
too hideous for the grave's holding. Satan here held his Babylonish court, and in the blood of 
stainless childhood the leprous limbs of phosphorescent Lilith were laved. Incubi and 
succubae howled praise to Hecate, and headless moon-calves bleated to the Magna Mater. 
Goats leaped to the sound of thin accursed flutes, and aegipans chased endlessly after 
misshapen fauns over rocks twisted like swollen toads. Moloch and Ashtaroth were not 
absent; for in this quintessence of all damnation the bounds of consciousness were let down, 
and man's fancy lay open to vistas of every realm of horror and every forbidden dimension 
that evil had power to mould. The world and Nature were helpless against such assaults from 
unsealed wells of night, nor could any sign or prayer check the Walpurgis-riot of horror which 
had come when a sage with the hateful key had stumbled on a horde with the locked and 
brimming coffer of transmitted daemon-lore. 

Suddenly a ray of physical light shot through these phantasms, and Malone heard the sound 
of oars amidst the blasphemies of things that should be dead. A boat with a lantern in its prow 
darted into sight, made fast to an iron ring in the slimy stone pier, and vomited forth several 
dark men bearing a long burden swathed in bedding. They took it to the naked 
phosphorescent thing on the carved golden pedestal, and the thing tittered and pawed at the 
bedding. Then they unswathed it, and propped upright before the pedestal the gangrenous 
corpse of a corpulent old man with stubbly beard and unkempt white hair. The 
phosphorescent thing tittered again, and the men produced iDottles from their pockets and 
anointed its feet with red, whilst they afterward gave the bottles to the thing to drink from. 

All at once, from an arcaded avenue leading endlessly away, there came the daemoniac rattle 
and wheeze of a blasphemous organ, choking and rumbling out the mockeries of hell In a 
cracked, sardonic bass. In an instant every moving entity was electrified; and forming at once 
into a ceremonial procession, the nightmare horde slithered away in quest of the sound — 
goat, satyr, and aeglpan, incubus, succuba, and lemur, twisted toad and shapeless elemental, 
dog-faced howler and silent strutter in darkness — all led by the abominable naked 
phosphorescent thing that had squatted on the carved golden throne, and that now strode 
insolently bearing in its arms the glassy-eyed corpse of the corpulent old man. The strange 
dark men danced In the rear, and the whole column skipped and leaped with Dionyslac fury. 
Malone staggered after them a few steps, delirious and hazy, and doubtful of his place in this 
or in any world. Then he turned, faltered, and sank down on the cold damp stone, gasping 
and shivering as the daemon organ croaked on, and the howling and drumming and tinkling 
of the mad procession grew fainter and fainter. 

Vaguely he was conscious of chanted horrors and shocking croakings afar off. Now and then 
a wail or whine of ceremonial devotion would float to him through the black arcade, whilst 
eventually there rose the dreadful Greek incantation whose text he had read above the pulpit 
of that dance-hall church. 

"O friend and companion of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs {here a hideous 
howl burst forth) and spilt blood {here nameless sounds vied with morbid shriekings), who 
wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs {here a whistling sigh occurred), who 
longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals {short, sharp cries from myriad throats), Gorgo 
{repeated as response), Mormo {repeated with ecstasy), thousand-faced moon {sighs and 
flute notes), look favourably on our sacrifices!" 

As the chant closed, a general shout went up, and hissing sounds nearly drowned the 
croaking of the cracked bass organ. Then a gasp as from many throats, and a babel of barked 
and bleated words — "Lilith, Great Lilith, behold the Bridegroom!" More cries, a clamour of 
rioting, and the sharp, clicking footfalls of a running figure. The footfalls approached, and 
Malone raised himself to his elbow to look. 

The luminosity of the crypt, lately diminished, had now slightly increased; and in that devil- 
light there appeared the fleeing form of that which should not flee or feel or breathe — the 
glassy-eyed, gangrenous corpse of the corpulent old man, now needing no support, but 
animated by some infernal sorcery of the rite just closed. After it raced the naked, tittering, 
phosphorescent thing that belonged on the carven pedestal, and still farther behind panted 
the dark men, and all the dread crew of sentient loathsomenesses. The corpse was gaining 
on its pursuers, and seemed bent on a definite object, straining with every rotting muscle 
toward the carved golden pedestal, whose necromantic importance was evidently so great. 
Another moment and it had reached its goal, whilst the trailing throng laboured on with more 
frantic speed. But they were too late, for in one final spurt of strength which ripped tendon 
from tendon and sent its noisome bulk floundering to the floor in a state of jellyish dissolution, 
the staring corpse which had been Robert Suydam achieved its object and its triumph. The 
push had been tremendous, but the force had held out; and as the pusher collapsed to a 
muddy blotch of corruption the pedestal he had pushed tottered, tipped, and finally careened 
from its onyx base into the thick waters below, sending up a parting gleam of carven gold as it 
sank heavily to undreamable gulfs of lower Tartarus. In that instant, too, the whole scene of 
horror faded to nothingness before Malone's eyes; and he fainted amidst a thunderous crash 
which seemed to blot out all the evil universe. 


Malone's dream, experienced in full before he knew of Suydam's death and transfer at sea, 
was curiously supplemented by some odd realities of the case; though that is no reason why 
anyone should believe it. The three old houses in Parl^er Place, doubtless long rotten with 
decay in its most insidious form, collapsed without visible cause while half the raiders and 
most of the prisoners were inside; and of both the greater number were instantly killed. Only 
in the basements and cellars was there much saving of life, and IVIalone was lucky to have 
been deep below the house of Robert Suydam. For he really was there, as no one is 
disposed to deny. They found him unconscious by the edge of a night-black pool, with a 
grotesquely horrible jumble of decay and bone, identifiable through dental work as the body of 
Suydam, a few feet away. The case was plain, for it was hither that the smugglers' 
underground canal led; and the men who took Suydam from the ship had brought him home. 
They themselves were never found, or at least never identified; and the ship's doctor is not 
yet satisfied with the simple certitudes of the police. 

Suydam was evidently a leader in extensive man-smuggling operations, for the canal to his 
house was but one of several subterranean channels and tunnels in the neighbourhood. 
There was a tunnel from this house to a crypt beneath the dance-hall church; a crypt 
accessible from the church only through a narrow secret passage in the north wall, and in 
whose chambers some singular and terrible things were discovered. The croaking organ was 
there, as well as a vast arched chapel with wooden benches and a strangely figured altar. The 
walls were lined with small cells, in seventeen of which — hideous to relate — solitary prisoners 
in a state of complete idiocy were found chained, including four mothers with infants of 
disturbingly strange appearance. These infants died soon after exposure to the light; a 
circumstance which the doctors thought rather merciful. Nobody but Malone, among those 
who inspected them, remembered the sombre question of old Delrio: "An sint unquam 
daemones incubi et succubae, et an ex tali congressu proles nasci queat?" 

Before the canals were filled up they were thoroughly dredged, and yielded forth a 
sensational array of sawed and split bones of all sizes. The kidnapping epidemic, very clearly, 
had been traced home; though only two of the surviving prisoners could by any legal thread 
be connected with it. These men are now in prison, since they failed of conviction as 
accessories in the actual murders. The carved golden pedestal or throne so often mentioned 
by IVIalone as of primary occult importance was never brought to light, though at one place 
under the Suydam house the canal was observed to sink into a well too deep for dredging. It 
was choked up at the mouth and cemented over when the cellars of the new houses were 
made, but Malone often speculates on what lies beneath. The police, satisfied that they had 
shattered a dangerous gang of maniacs and man-smugglers, turned over to the Federal 
authorities the unconvicted Kurds, who before their deportation were conclusively found to 
belong to the Yezidi clan of devil-worshippers. The tramp ship and its crew remain an elusive 
mystery, though cynical detectives are once more ready to combat its smuggling and rum- 
running ventures. IVIalone thinks these detectives shew a sadly limited perspective in their 
lack of wonder at the myriad unexplainable details, and the suggestive obscurity of the whole 
case; though he is just as critical of the newspapers, which saw only a morbid sensation and 
gloated over a minor sadist cult which they might have proclaimed a horror from the 
universe's very heart. But he is content to rest silent in Chepachet, calming his nervous 
system and praying that time may gradually transfer his terrible experience from the realm of 
present reality to that of picturesque and semi-mythical remoteness. 

Robert Suydam sleeps beside his bride in Greenwood Cemetery. No funeral was held over 
the strangely released bones, and relatives are grateful for the swift oblivion which overtook 

the case as a whole. The scholar's connexion with the Red Hook horrors, indeed, was never 
emblazoned by legal proof; since his death forestalled the inquiry he would otherwise have 
faced. His own end is not much mentioned, and the Suydams hope that posterity may recall 
him only as a gentle recluse who dabbled in harmless magic and folklore. 

As for Red Hook — it is always the same. Suydam came and went; a terror gathered and 
faded; but the evil spirit of darkness and squalor broods on amongst the mongrels in the old 
brick houses, and prowling bands still parade on unknown errands past windows where lights 
and twisted faces unaccountably appear and disappear. Age-old horror is a hydra with a 
thousand heads, and the cults of darkness are rooted in blasphemies deeper than the well of 
Democritus. The soul of the beast is omnipresent and triumphant, and Red Hook's legions of 
blear-eyed, pockmarked youths still chant and curse and howl as they file from abyss to 
abyss, none knows whence or whither, pushed on by blind laws of biology which they may 
never understand. As of old, more people enter Red Hook than leave it on the landward side, 
and there are already rumours of new canals running underground to certain centres of traffic 
in liquor and less mentionable things. 

The dance-hall church is now mostly a dance-hall, and queer faces have appeared at night at 
the windows. Lately a policeman expressed the belief that the filled-up crypt has been dug out 
again, and for no simply explainable purpose. Who are we to combat poisons older than 
history and mankind? Apes danced in Asia to those horrors, and the cancer lurks secure and 
spreading where furtiveness hides in rows of decaying brick. 

Malone does not shudder without cause — for only the other day an officer overheard a 
swarthy squinting hag teaching a small child some whispered patois in the shadow of an 
areaway. He listened, and thought it very strange when he heard her repeat over and over 

"O friend and companion of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs and spilt 
blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who longest for 
blood and bringest terror to mortals. Gorge, Mormo, thousand-faced moon, look 
favourably on our sacrifices!" 

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I saw him on a sleepless night when I was walking desperately to save my soul and my 
vision. My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant 
wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient streets that twist endlessly from 
forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts to courts and squares and waterfronts equally 
forgotten, and in the Cyclopean modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian 
under waning moons, I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which 
threatened to master, paralyse, and annihilate me. 

The disillusion had been gradual. Coming for the first time upon the town, I had seen it in the 
sunset from a bridge, majestic above its waters, its incredible peaks and pyramids rising 
flower-like and delicate from pools of violet mist to play with the flaming golden clouds and the 
first stars of evening. Then it had lighted up window by window above the shimmering tides 
where lanterns nodded and glided and deep horns bayed weird harmonies, and itself become 
a starry firmament of dream, redolent of faery music, and one with the marvels of 
Carcassonne and Samarcand and El Dorado and all glorious and half-fabulous cities. Shortly 
afterward I was taken through those antique ways so dear to my fancy — narrow, curving 
alleys and passages where rows of red Georgian brick blinked with small-paned dormers 
above pillared doorways that had looked on gilded sedans and panelled coaches — and in the 
first flush of realisation of these long-wished things I thought I had indeed achieved such 
treasures as would make me In time a poet. 

But success and happiness were not to be. Garish daylight shewed only squalor and alienage 
and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone where the moon had hinted of 
loveliness and elder magic; and the throngs of people that seethed through the flume-like 
streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd 
strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never 
mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white 
New England village steeples in his heart. 

So instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came only a shuddering blankness and 
ineffable loneliness; and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had ever dared to breathe 
before — the unwhisperable secret of secrets — the fact that this city of stone and stridor is not 
a sentient perpetuation of Old New York as London is of Old London and Paris of Old Paris, 
but that it is in fact quite dead, its sprawling body imperfectly embalmed and infested with 
queer animate things which have nothing to do with it as it was in life. Upon making this 
discovery I ceased to sleep comfortably; though something of resigned tranquillity came back 
as I gradually formed the habit of keeping off the streets by day and venturing abroad only at 
night, when darkness calls forth what little of the past still hovers wraith-like about, and old 
white doon/vays remember the stalwart forms that once passed through them. With this mode 
of relief I even wrote a few poems, and still refrained from going home to my people lest I 
seem to crawl back ignobly in defeat. 

Then, on a sleepless night's walk, I met the man. It was in a grotesque hidden courtyard of 
the Greenwich section, for there In my ignorance I had settled, having heard of the place as 
the natural home of poets and artists. The archaic lanes and houses and unexpected bits of 
square and court had indeed delighted me, and when I found the poets and artists to be loud- 
voiced pretenders whose quaintness is tinsel and whose lives are a denial of all that pure 

beauty which is poetry and art, I stayed on for love of these venerable things. I fancied them 
as they were In their prime, when Greenwich was a placid village not yet engulfed by the 
town; and in the hours before dawn, when all the revellers had slunk away, I used to wander 
alone among their cryptical windings and brood upon the curious arcana which generations 
must have deposited there. This kept my soul alive, and gave me a few of those dreams and 
visions for which the poet far within me cried out. 

The man came upon me at about two one cloudy August morning, as I was threading a series 
of detached courtyards; now accessible only through the unlighted hallways of intervening 
buildings, but once forming parts of a continuous network of picturesque alleys. I had heard of 
them by vague rumour, and realised that they could not be upon any map of today; but the 
fact that they were forgotten only endeared them to me, so that I had sought them with twice 
my usual eagerness. Now that I had found them, my eagerness was again redoubled; for 
something in their arrangement dimly hinted that they might be only a few of many such, with 
dark, dumb counterparts wedged obscurely betwixt high blank walls and deserted rear 
tenements, or lurking lamplessly behind archways, unbetrayed by hordes of the foreign- 
speaking or guarded by furtive and uncommunicative artists whose practices do not invite 
publicity or the light of day. 

He spoke to me without invitation, noting my mood and glances as I studied certain 
knockered doorways above iron-railed steps, the pallid glow of traceried transoms feebly 
lighting my face. His own face was in shadow, and he wore a wide-brimmed hat which 
somehow blended perfectly with the out-of-date cloak he affected; but I was subtly disquieted 
even before he addressed me. His form was very slight, thin almost to cadaverousness; and 
his voice proved phenomenally soft and hollow, though not particularly deep. He had, he said, 
noticed me several times at my wanderings; and inferred that I resembled him in loving the 
vestiges of former years. Would I not like the guidance of one long practiced in these 
explorations, and possessed of local information profoundly deeper than any which an 
obvious newcomer could possibly have gained? 

As he spoke, I caught a glimpse of his face in the yellow beam from a solitary attic window. It 
was a noble, even a handsome, elderly countenance; and bore the marks of a lineage and 
refinement unusual for the age and place. Yet some quality about it disturbed me almost as 
much as its features pleased me — perhaps it was too white, or too expressionless, or too 
much out of keeping with the locality, to make me feel easy or comfortable. Nevertheless I 
followed him; for in those dreary days my quest for antique beauty and mystery was all that I 
had to keep my soul alive, and I reckoned it a rare favour of Fate to fall in with one whose 
kindred seekings seemed to have penetrated so much farther than mine. 

Something in the night constrained the cloaked man to silence, and for a long hour he led me 
forward without needless words; making only the briefest of comments concerning ancient 
names and dates and changes, and directing my progress very largely by gestures as we 
squeezed through interstices, tiptoed through corridors, clambered over brick walls, and once 
crawled on hands and knees through a low, arched passage of stone whose immense length 
and tortuous twistings effaced at last every hint of geographical location I had managed to 
preserve. The things we saw were very old and marvellous, or at least they seemed so in the 
few straggling rays of light by which I viewed them, and I shall never forget the tottering Ionic 
columns and fluted pilasters and urn-headed iron fence-posts and flaring-lintelled windows 
and decorative fanlights that appeared to grow quainter and stranger the deeper we 
advanced into this inexhaustible maze of unknown antiquity. 

We met no person, and as time passed the lighted windows became fewer and fewer. The 
street-lights we first encountered had been of oil, and of the ancient lozenge pattern. Later I 
noticed some with candles; and at last, after traversing a horrible unlighted court where my 
guide had to lead with his gloved hand through total blackness to a narrow wooden gate in a 
high wall, we came upon a fragment of alley lit only by lanterns in front of every seventh 
house — unbelievably colonial tin lanterns with conical tops and holes punched in the sides. 
This alley led steeply uphill — more steeply than I thought possible in this part of New York — 
and the upper end was blocked squarely by the ivy-clad wall of a private estate, beyond which 
I could see a pale cupola, and the tops of trees waving against a vague lightness in the sky. In 
this wall was a small, low-arched gate of nail-studded black oak, which the man proceeded to 
unlock with a ponderous key. Leading me within, he steered a course in utter blackness over 
what seemed to be a gravel path, and finally up a flight of stone steps to the door of the 
house, which he unlocked and opened for me. 

We entered, and as we did so I grew faint from a reek of infinite mustiness which welled out to 
meet us, and which must have been the fruit of unwholesome centuries of decay. My host 
appeared not to notice this, and in courtesy I kept silent as he piloted me up a curving 
stairway, across a hall, and into a room whose door I heard him lock behind us. Then I saw 
him pull the curtains of the three small-paned windows that barely shewed themselves against 
the lightening sky; after which he crossed to the mantel, struck flint and steel, lighted two 
candles of a candelabrum of twelve sconces, and made a gesture enjoining soft-toned 

In this feeble radiance I saw that we were in a spacious, well-furnished, and panelled library 
dating from the first quarter of the eighteenth century, with splendid doorway pediments, a 
delightful Doric cornice, and a magnificently carved overmantel with scroll-and-urn top. Above 
the crowded bookshelves at intervals along the walls were well-wrought family portraits; all 
tarnished to an enigmatical dimness, and bearing an unmistakable likeness to the man who 
now motioned me to a chair beside the graceful Chippendale table. Before seating himself 
across the table from me, my host paused for a moment as if in embarrassment; then, tardily 
removing his gloves, wide-brimmed hat, and cloak, stood theatrically revealed in full mid- 
Georgian costume from queued hair and neck ruffles to knee-breeches, silk hose, and the 
buckled shoes I had not previously noticed. Now slowly sinking into a lyre-back chair, he 
commenced to eye me intently. 

Without his hat he took on an aspect of extreme age which was scarcely visible before, and I 
wondered if this unperceived mark of singular longevity were not one of the sources of my 
original disquiet. When he spoke at length, his soft, hollow, and carefully muffled voice not 
infrequently quavered; and now and then I had great difficulty in following him as I listened 
with a thrill of amazement and half-disavowed alarm which grew each instant. 

"You behold, Sir," my host began, "a man of very eccentrical habits, for whose costume no 
apology need be offered to one with your wit and inclinations. Reflecting upon better times, I 
have not scrupled to ascertain their ways and adopt their dress and manners; an indulgence 
which offends none if practiced without ostentation. It hath been my good-fortune to retain the 
rural seat of my ancestors, swallowed though it was by two towns, first Greenwich, which built 
up hither after 1800, then New-York, which joined on near 1830. There were many reasons 
for the close keeping of this place in my family, and I have not been remiss in discharging 
such obligations. The squire who succeeded to it in 1 768 studied sartain arts and made 
sartain discoveries, all connected with influences residing in this particular plot of ground, and 
eminently desarving of the strongest guarding. Some curious effects of these arts and 

discoveries I now purpose to sinew you, under tine strictest secrecy; and i beiieve i may reiy 
on my judgment oif men enougii to have no distrust of eitlier your interest or your fidelity." 

He paused, but I could only nod my head. I have said that I was alarmed, yet to my soul 
nothing was more deadly than the material daylight world of New York, and whether this man 
were a harmless eccentric or a wielder of dangerous arts I had no choice save to follow him 
and slake my sense of wonder on whatever he might have to offer. So I listened. 

"To — my ancestor — " he softly continued, "there appeared to reside some very remarkable 
qualities in the will of mankind; qualities having a little-suspected dominance not only over the 
acts of one's self and of others, but over every variety offeree and substance in Nature, and 
over many elements and dimensions deemed more univarsal than Nature herself. May I say 
that he flouted the sanctity of things as great as space and time, and that he put to strange 
uses the rites of sartain half-breed red Indians once encamped upon this hill? These Indians 
shewed choler when the place was built, and were plaguy pestilent in asking to visit the 
grounds at the full of the moon. For years they stole over the wall each month when they 
could, and by stealth performed sartain acts. Then, in '68, the new squire catched them at 
their doings, and stood still at what he saw. Thereafter he bargained with them and 
exchanged the free access of his grounds for the exact inwardness of what they did; larning 
that their grandfathers got part of their custom from red ancestors and part from an old 
Dutchman in the time of the States-General. And pox on him, I'm afeared the squire must 
have sarved them monstrous bad rum — whether or not by intent — for a week after he larnt the 
secret he was the only man living that knew it. You, Sir, are the first outsider to be told there is 
a secret, and split me if I'd have risked tampering that much with — the powers — had ye not 
been so hot after bygone things." 

I shuddered as the man grew colloquial — and with familiar speech of another day. He went 

"But you must know. Sir, that what — the squire — got from those mongrel salvages was but a 
small part of the larning he came to have. He had not been at Oxford for nothing, nor talked to 
no account with an ancient chymist and astrologer in Paris. He was, in fine, made sensible 
that all the world is but the smoke of our intellects; past the bidding of the vulgar, but by the 
wise to be puffed out and drawn in like any cloud of prime Virginia tobacco. What we want, we 
may make about us; and what we don't want, we may sweep away. I won't say that all this is 
wholly true in body, but 'tis sufficient true to furnish a very pretty spectacle now and then. You, 
I conceive, would be tickled by a better sight of sartain other years than your fancy affords 
you; so be pleased to hold back any fright at what I design to shew. Come to the window and 
be quiet." 

My host now took my hand to draw me to one of the two windows on the long side of the 
malodorous room, and at the first touch of his ungloved fingers I turned cold. His flesh, though 
dry and firm, was of the quality of ice; and I almost shrank away from his pulling. But again I 
thought of the emptiness and horror of reality, and boldly prepared to follow whithersoever I 
might be led. Once at the window, the man drew apart the yellow silk curtains and directed my 
stare into the blackness outside. For a moment I saw nothing save a myriad of tiny dancing 
lights, far, far before me. Then, as if in response to an insidious motion of my host's hand, a 
flash of heat-lightning played over the scene, and I looked out upon a sea of luxuriant 
foliage — foliage unpolluted, and not the sea of roofs to be expected by any normal mind. On 
my right the Hudson glittered wickedly, and in the distance ahead I saw the unhealthy 
shimmer of a vast salt marsh constellated with nervous fireflies. The flash died, and an evil 
smile illumined the waxy face of the aged necromancer. 

"That was before my time — before the new squire's time. Pray let us try again." 

I was faint, even fainter than the hateful modernity of that accursed city had made me. 

"Good God!" I whispered, "can you do that for any f/me?" And as he nodded, and bared the 
black stumps of what had once been yellow fangs, I clutched at the curtains to prevent myself 
from falling. But he steadied me with that terrible, ice-cold claw, and once more made his 
insidious gesture. 

Again the lightning flashed — but this time upon a scene not wholly strange. It was Greenwich, 
the Greenwich that used to be, with here and there a roof or row of houses as we see it now, 
yet with lovely green lanes and fields and bits of grassy common. The marsh still glittered 
beyond, but in the farther distance I saw the steeples of what was then all of New York; Trinity 
and St. Paul's and the Brick Church dominating their sisters, and a faint haze of wood smoke 
hovering over the whole. I breathed hard, but not so much from the sight itself as from the 
possibilities my imagination terrifiedly conjured up. 

"Can you — dare you — go far?" I spoke with awe, and I think he shared it for a second, but the 
evil grin returned. 

"Far? What I have seen would blast ye to a mad statue of stone! Back, back— forward, 
forward— \ook, ye puling lack-wit!" 

And as he snarled the phrase under his breath he gestured anew; bringing to the sky a flash 
more blinding than either which had come before. For full three seconds I could glimpse that 
pandaemoniac sight, and In those seconds I saw a vista which will ever afterward torment me 
in dreams. I saw the heavens verminous with strange flying things, and beneath them a 
hellish black city of giant stone terraces with impious pyramids flung savagely to the moon, 
and devil-lights burning from unnumbered windows. And swarming loathsomely on aerial 
galleries I saw the yellow, squint-eyed people of that city, robed horribly in orange and red, 
and dancing insanely to the pounding of fevered kettle-drums, the clatter of obscene crotala, 
and the maniacal moaning of muted horns whose ceaseless dirges rose and fell undulantly 
like the waves of an unhallowed ocean of bitumen. 

I saw this vista, I say, and heard as with the mind's ear the blasphemous domdaniel of 
cacophony which companioned it. It was the shrieking fulfilment of all the horror which that 
corpse-city had ever stirred in my soul, and forgetting every injunction to silence I screamed 
and screamed and screamed as my nerves gave way and the walls quivered about me. 

Then, as the flash subsided, I saw that my host was trembling too; a look of shocking fear half 
blotting from his face the serpent distortion of rage which my screams had excited. He 
tottered, clutched at the curtains as I had done before, and wriggled his head wildly, like a 
hunted animal. God knows he had cause, for as the echoes of my screaming died away there 
came another sound so hellishly suggestive that only numbed emotion kept me sane and 
conscious. It was the steady, stealthy creaking of the stairs beyond the locked door, as with 
the ascent of a barefoot or skin-shod horde; and at last the cautious, purposeful rattling of the 
brass latch that glowed in the feeble candlelight. The old man clawed and spat at me through 
the mouldy air, and barked things in his throat as he swayed with the yellow curtain he 

"The full moon — damn ye — ye ... ye yelping dog — ye called 'em, and they've come for me! 
Moccasined feet — dead men — Gad sink ye, ye red devils, but I poisoned no rum o' yours — 
han't I kept your pox-rotted magic safe? — ye swilled yourselves sick, curse ye, and ye must 
needs blame the squire — let go, you! Unhand that latch — I've naught for ye here — " 

At this point tliree slow and very deliberate raps shook the panels of the door, and a white 
foam gathered at the mouth of the frantic magician. His fright, turning to steely despair, left 
room for a resurgence of his rage against me; and he staggered a step toward the table on 
whose edge I was steadying myself. The curtains, still clutched in his right hand as his left 
clawed out at me, grew taut and finally crashed down from their lofty fastenings; admitting to 
the room a flood of that full moonlight which the brightening of the sky had presaged. In those 
greenish beams the candles paled, and a new semblance of decay spread over the musk- 
reeking room with its wormy panelling, sagging floor, battered mantel, rickety furniture, and 
ragged draperies. It spread over the old man, too, whether from the same source or because 
of his fear and vehemence, and I saw him shrivel and blacken as he lurched near and strove 
to rend me with vulturine talons. Only his eyes stayed whole, and they glared with a 
propulsive, dilated incandescence which grew as the face around them charred and dwindled. 

The rapping was now repeated with greater insistence, and this time bore a hint of metal. The 
black thing facing me had become only a head with eyes, impotently trying to wriggle across 
the sinking floor in my direction, and occasionally emitting feeble little spits of immortal malice. 
Now swift and splintering blows assailed the sickly panels, and I saw the gleam of a 
tomahawk as it cleft the rending wood. I did not move, for I could not; but watched dazedly as 
the door fell in pieces to admit a colossal, shapeless influx of inky substance starred with 
shining, malevolent eyes. It poured thickly, like a flood of oil bursting a rotten bulkhead, 
overturned a chair as it spread, and finally flowed under the table and across the room to 
where the blackened head with the eyes still glared at me. Around that head it closed, totally 
swallowing it up, and in another moment it had begun to recede; bearing away its invisible 
burden without touching me, and flowing again out of that black doonway and down the 
unseen stairs, which creaked as before, though in reverse order. 

Then the floor gave way at last, and I slid gaspingly down into the nighted chamber below, 
choking with cobwebs and half swooning with terror. The green moon, shining through broken 
windows, shewed me the hall door half open; and as I rose from the plaster-strown floor and 
twisted myself free from the sagged ceilings, I saw sweep past it an awful torrent of 
blackness, with scores of baleful eyes glowing in it. It was seeking the door to the cellar, and 
when it found it, it vanished therein. I now felt the floor of this lower room giving as that of the 
upper chamber had done, and once a crashing above had been followed by the fall past the 
west window of something which must have been the cupola. Now liberated for the instant 
from the wreckage, I rushed through the hall to the front door; and finding myself unable to 
open it, seized a chair and broke a window, climbing frenziedly out upon the unkempt lawn 
where moonlight danced over yard-high grass and weeds. The wall was high, and all the 
gates were locked; but moving a pile of boxes in a corner I managed to gain the top and cling 
to the great stone urn set there. 

About me in my exhaustion I could see only strange walls and windows and old gambrel 
roofs. The steep street of my approach was nowhere visible, and the little I did see 
succumbed rapidly to a mist that rolled in from the river despite the glaring moonlight. 
Suddenly the urn to which I clung began to tremble, as if sharing my own lethal dizziness; and 
in another instant my body was plunging downward to I knew not what fate. 

The man who found me said that I must have crawled a long way despite my broken bones, 
for a trail of blood stretched off as far as he dared look. The gathering rain soon effaced this 
link with the scene of my ordeal, and reports could state no more than that I had appeared 
from a place unknown, at the entrance of a little black court off Perry Street. 

I never sought to return to those tenebrous labyrinths, nor would I direct any sane man thither 
if I could. Of who or what that ancient creature was, I have no idea; but I repeat that the city is 
dead and full of unsuspected horrors. Whither he has gone, I do not know; but I have gone 
home to the pure New England lanes up which fragrant sea-winds sweep at evening. 

Return to Table of Contents 

In the Vault 


Dedicated to C. W. Smith, from whose suggestion the central situation is taken. 

There is nothing more absurd, as I view it, than that conventional association of the homely 
and the wholesome which seems to pervade the psychology of the multitude. Mention a 
bucolic Yankee setting, a bungling and thick-fibred village undertaker, and a careless mishap 
in a tomb, and no average reader can be brought to expect more than a hearty albeit 
grotesque phase of comedy. God knows, though, that the prosy tale which George Birch's 
death permits me to tell has in it aspects beside which some of our darkest tragedies are light. 

Birch acquired a limitation and changed his business in 1881 , yet never discussed the case 
when he could avoid it. Neither did his old physician Dr. Davis, who died years ago. It was 
generally stated that the affliction and shock were results of an unlucky slip whereby Birch 
had locked himself for nine hours in the receiving tomb of Peck Valley Cemetery, escaping 
only by crude and disastrous mechanical means; but while this much was undoubtedly true, 
there were other and blacker things which the man used to whisper to me in his drunken 
delirium toward the last. He confided in me because I was his doctor, and because he 
probably felt the need of confiding in someone else after Davis died. He was a bachelor, 
wholly without relatives. 

Birch, before 1 881 , had been the village undertaker of Peck Valley; and was a very calloused 
and primitive specimen even as such specimens go. The practices I heard attributed to him 
would be unbelievable today, at least in a city; and even Peck Valley would have shuddered a 
bit had it known the easy ethics of its mortuary artist in such debatable matters as the 
ownership of costly "laying-out" apparel invisible beneath the casket's lid, and the degree of 
dignity to be maintained in posing and adapting the unseen members of lifeless tenants to 
containers not always calculated with sublimest accuracy. Most distinctly Birch was lax, 
insensitive, and professionally undesirable; yet I still think he was not an evil man. He was 
merely crass of fibre and function — thoughtless, careless, and liquorish, as his easily 
avoidable accident proves, and without that modicum of imagination which holds the average 
citizen within certain limits fixed by taste. 

Just where to begin Birch's story I can hardly decide, since 1 am no practiced teller of tales. 1 
suppose one should start in the cold December of 1880, when the ground froze and the 
cemetery delvers found they could dig no more graves till spring. Fortunately the village was 
small and the death rate low, so that it was possible to give all of Birch's inanimate charges a 
temporary haven in the single antiquated receiving tomb. The undertaker grew doubly 
lethargic in the bitter weather, and seemed to outdo even himself in carelessness. Never did 
he knock together flimsier and ungainlier caskets, or disregard more flagrantly the needs of 
the rusty lock on the tomb door which he slammed open and shut with such nonchalant 

At last the spring thaw came, and graves were laboriously prepared for the nine silent 
harvests of the grim reaper which waited in the tomb. Birch, though dreading the bother of 
removal and interment, began his task of transference one disagreeable April morning, but 
ceased before noon because of a heavy rain that seemed to irritate his horse, after having 
laid but one mortal tenement to its permanent rest. That was Darius Peck, the nonagenarian, 
whose grave was not far from the tomb. Birch decided that he would begin the next day with 

little old Matthew Fenner, whose grave was also near by; but actually postponed the matter 

for three days, not getting to work till Good Friday, the 15th. Being without superstition, he did 
not heed the day at all; though ever afterward he refused to do anything of importance on that 
fateful sixth day of the week. Certainly, the events of that evening greatly changed George 

On the afternoon of Friday, April 15th, then. Birch set out for the tomb with horse and wagon 
to transfer the body of Matthew Fenner. That he was not perfectly sober, he subsequently 
admitted; though he had not then taken to the wholesale drinking by which he later tried to 
forget certain things. He was just dizzy and careless enough to annoy his sensitive horse, 
which as he drew it viciously up at the tomb neighed and pawed and tossed its head, much as 
on that former occasion when the rain had vexed it. The day was clear, but a high wind had 
sprung up; and Birch was glad to get to shelter as he unlocked the iron door and entered the 
side-hill vault. Another might not have relished the damp, odorous chamber with the eight 
carelessly placed coffins; but Birch in those days was insensitive, and was concerned only in 
getting the right coffin for the right grave. He had not forgotten the criticism aroused when 
Hannah Bixby's relatives, wishing to transport her body to the cemetery in the city whither 
they had moved, found the casket of Judge Gapwell beneath her headstone. 

The light was dim, but Birch's sight was good, and he did not get Asaph Sawyer's coffin by 
mistake, although it was very similar. He had, indeed, made that coffin for Matthew Fenner; 
but had cast it aside at last as too awkward and flimsy, in a fit of curious sentimentality 
aroused by recalling how kindly and generous the little old man had been to him during his 
bankruptcy five years before. He gave old Matt the very best his skill could produce, but was 
thrifty enough to save the rejected specimen, and to use it when Asaph Sawyer died of a 
malignant fever. Sawyer was not a lovable man, and many stories were told of his almost 
inhuman vindictiveness and tenacious memory for wrongs real or fancied. To him Birch had 
felt no compunction in assigning the carelessly made coffin which he now pushed out of the 
way in his quest for the Fenner casket. 

It was just as he had recognised old Matt's coffin that the door slammed to in the wind, 
leaving him in a dusk even deeper than before. The narrow transom admitted only the 
feeblest of rays, and the overhead ventilation funnel virtually none at all; so that he was 
reduced to a profane fumbling as he made his halting way among the long boxes toward the 
latch. In this funereal twilight he rattled the rusty handles, pushed at the iron panels, and 
wondered why the massive portal had grown so suddenly recalcitrant. In this twilight, too, he 
began to realise the truth and to shout loudly as if his horse outside could do more than neigh 
an unsympathetic reply. For the long-neglected latch was obviously broken, leaving the 
careless undertaker trapped in the vault, a victim of his own oversight. 

The thing must have happened at about three-thirty in the afternoon. Birch, being by 
temperament phlegmatic and practical, did not shout long; but proceeded to grope about for 
some tools which he recalled seeing in a corner of the tomb. It is doubtful whether he was 
touched at all by the horror and exquisite weirdness of his position, but the bald fact of 
imprisonment so far from the daily paths of men was enough to exasperate him thoroughly. 
His day's work was sadly interrupted, and unless chance presently brought some rambler 
hither, he might have to remain all night or longer. The pile of tools soon reached, and a 
hammer and chisel selected. Birch returned over the coffins to the door. The air had begun to 
be exceedingly unwholesome; but to this detail he paid no attention as he toiled, half by 
feeling, at the heavy and corroded metal of the latch. He would have given much for a lantern 
or bit of candle; but lacking these, bungled semi-sightlessly as best he might. 

When he perceived that the latch was hopelessly unyielding, at least to such meagre tools 
and under such tenebrous conditions as these, Birch glanced about for other possible points 
of escape. The vault had been dug from a hillside, so that the narrow ventilation funnel in the 
top ran through several feet of earth, mailing this direction utterly useless to consider. Over 
the door, however, the high, slit-like transom in the brick facade gave promise of possible 
enlargement to a diligent worker; hence upon this his eyes long rested as he racked his 
brains for means to reach it. There was nothing like a ladder in the tomb, and the coffin niches 
on the sides and rear — which Birch seldom took the trouble to use — afforded no ascent to the 
space above the door. Only the coffins themselves remained as potential stepping-stones, 
and as he considered these he speculated on the best mode of arranging them. Three coffin- 
heights, he reckoned, would permit him to reach the transom; but he could do better with four. 
The boxes were fairly even, and could be piled up like blocks; so he began to compute how 
he might most stably use the eight to rear a scalable platform four deep. As he planned, he 
could not but wish that the units of his contemplated staircase had been more securely made. 
Whether he had imagination enough to wish they were empty, is strongly to be doubted. 

Finally he decided to lay a base of three parallel with the wall, to place upon this two layers of 
two each, and upon these a single box to serve as the platform. This arrangement could be 
ascended with a minimum of awkwardness, and would furnish the desired height. Better still, 
though, he would utilise only two boxes of the base to support the superstructure, leaving one 
free to be piled on top in case the actual feat of escape required an even greater altitude. And 
so the prisoner toiled in the twilight, heaving the unresponsive remnants of mortality with little 
ceremony as his miniature Tower of Babel rose course by course. Several of the coffins 
began to split under the stress of handling, and he planned to save the stoutly built casket of 
little Matthew Fenner for the top, in order that his feet might have as certain a surface as 
possible. In the semi-gloom he trusted mostly to touch to select the right one, and indeed 
came upon it almost by accident, since it tumbled into his hands as if through some odd 
volition after he had unwittingly placed it beside another on the third layer. 

The tower at length finished, and his aching arms rested by a pause during which he sat on 
the bottom step of his grim device. Birch cautiously ascended with his tools and stood abreast 
of the narrow transom. The borders of the space were entirely of brick, and there seemed little 
doubt but that he could shortly chisel away enough to allow his body to pass. As his hammer 
blows began to fall, the horse outside whinnied in a tone which may have been encouraging 
and may have been mocking. In either case it would have been appropriate; for the 
unexpected tenacity of the easy-looking brickwork was surely a sardonic commentary on the 
vanity of mortal hopes, and the source of a task whose performance deserved every possible 

Dusk fell and found Birch still toiling. He worked largely by feeling now, since newly gathered 
clouds hid the moon; and though progress was still slow, he felt heartened at the extent of his 
encroachments on the top and bottom of the aperture. He could, he was sure, get out by 
midnight — though it is characteristic of him that this thought was untinged with eerie 
implications. Undisturbed by oppressive reflections on the time, the place, and the company 
beneath his feet, he philosophically chipped away the stony brickwork; cursing when a 
fragment hit him in the face, and laughing when one struck the increasingly excited horse that 
pawed near the cypress tree. In time the hole grew so large that he ventured to try his body in 
it now and then, shifting about so that the coffins beneath him rocked and creaked. He would 
not, he found, have to pile another on his platform to make the proper height; for the hole was 
on exactly the right level to use as soon as its size might permit. 

It must have been midnight at least when Birch decided he could get through the transom. 
Tired and perspiring despite many rests, he descended to the floor and sat a while on the 
bottom box to gather strength for the final wriggle and leap to the ground outside. The hungry 
horse was neighing repeatedly and almost uncannily, and he vaguely wished it would stop. 
He was curiously unelated over his impending escape, and almost dreaded the exertion, for 
his form had the indolent stoutness of early middle age. As he remounted the splitting coffins 
he felt his weight very poignantly; especially when, upon reaching the topmost one, he heard 
that aggravated crackle which bespeaks the wholesale rending of wood. He had, it seems, 
planned in vain when choosing the stoutest coffin for the platform; for no sooner was his full 
bulk again upon it than the rotting lid gave way, jouncing him two feet down on a surface 
which even he did not care to imagine. IVIaddened by the sound, or by the stench which 
billowed forth even to the open air, the waiting horse gave a scream that was too frantic for a 
neigh, and plunged madly off through the night, the wagon rattling crazily behind it. 

Birch, in his ghastly situation, was now too low for an easy scramble out of the enlarged 
transom; but gathered his energies for a determined try. Clutching the edges of the aperture, 
he sought to pull himself up, when he noticed a queer retardation in the form of an apparent 
drag on both his ankles. In another moment he knew fear for the first time that night; for 
struggle as he would, he could not shake clear of the unknown grasp which held his feet in 
relentless captivity. Horrible pains, as of savage wounds, shot through his calves; and in his 
mind was a vortex of fright mixed with an unquenchable materialism that suggested splinters, 
loose nails, or some other attribute of a breaking wooden box. Perhaps he screamed. At any 
rate he kicked and squirmed frantically and automatically whilst his consciousness was 
almost eclipsed in a half -swoon. 

Instinct guided him in his wriggle through the transom, and in the crawl which followed his 
jarring thud on the damp ground. He could not walk, it appeared, and the emerging moon 
must have witnessed a horrible sight as he dragged his bleeding ankles toward the cemetery 
lodge; his fingers clawing the black mould in brainless haste, and his body responding with 
that maddening slowness from which one suffers when chased by the phantoms of 
nightmare. There was evidently, however, no pursuer; for he was alone and alive when 
Armington, the lodge-keeper, answered his feeble clawing at the door. 

Armington helped Birch to the outside of a spare bed and sent his little son Edwin for Dr. 
Davis. The afflicted man was fully conscious, but would say nothing of any consequence; 
merely muttering such things as "oh, my ankles!", "let go!", or "shut in the tomb". Then the 
doctor came with his medicine-case and asked crisp questions, and removed the patient's 
outer clothing, shoes, and socks. The wounds — for both ankles were frightfully lacerated 
about the Achilles' tendons — seemed to puzzle the old physician greatly, and finally almost to 
frighten him. His questioning grew more than medically tense, and his hands shook as he 
dressed the mangled members; binding them as if he wished to get the wounds out of sight 
as quickly as possible. 

For an impersonal doctor, Davis' ominous and awestruck cross-examination became very 
strange indeed as he sought to drain from the weakened undertaker every least detail of his 
horrible experience. He was oddly anxious to know if Birch were sure — absolutely sure — of 
the identity of that top coffin of the pile; how he had chosen it, how he had been certain of it 
as the Fenner coffin in the dusk, and how he had distinguished it from the inferior duplicate 
coffin of vicious Asaph Sawyer. Would the firm Fenner casket have caved in so readily? 
Davis, an old-time village practitioner, had of course seen both at the respective funerals, as 
indeed he had attended both Fenner and Sawyer in their last illnesses. He had even 

wondered, at Sawyer's funeral, how the vindictive farmer had managed to lie straight in a box 
so closely akin to that of the diminutive Fenner. 

After a full two hours Dr. Davis left, urging Birch to insist at all times that his wounds were 
caused entirely by loose nails and splintering wood. What else, he added, could ever in any 
case be proved or believed? But it would be well to say as little as could be said, and to let no 
other doctor treat the wounds. Birch heeded this advice all the rest of his life till he told me his 
story; and when I saw the scars — ancient and whitened as they then were — I agreed that he 
was wise In so doing. He always remained lame, for the great tendons had been severed; but 
I think the greatest lameness was in his soul. His thinking processes, once so phlegmatic and 
logical, had become ineffaceably scarred; and it was pitiful to note his response to certain 
chance allusions such as "Friday", "tomb", "coffin", and words of less obvious concatenation. 
His frightened horse had gone home, but his frightened wits never quite did that. He changed 
his business, but something always preyed upon him. It may have been just fear, and It may 
have been fear mixed with a queer belated sort of remorse for bygone crudities. His drinking, 
of course, only aggravated what it was meant to alleviate. 

When Dr. Davis left Birch that night he had taken a lantern and gone to the old receiving 
tomb. The moon was shining on the scattered brick fragments and marred facade, and the 
latch of the great door yielded readily to a touch from the outside. Steeled by old ordeals in 
dissecting rooms, the doctor entered and looked about, stifling the nausea of mind and body 
that everything in sight and smell induced. He cried aloud once, and a little later gave a gasp 
that was more terrible than a cry. Then he fled back to the lodge and broke all the rules of his 
calling by rousing and shaking his patient, and hurling at him a succession of shuddering 
whispers that seared into the bewildered ears like the hissing of vitriol. 

"It was Asaph's coffin, Birch, just as I thought! I knew his teeth, with the front ones missing on 
the upper jaw — never, for God's sake, shew those wounds! The body was pretty badly gone, 
but if ever I saw vindictiveness on any face — or former face. . . . You know what a fiend he 
was for revenge — how he ruined old Raymond thirty years after their boundary suit, and how 
he stepped on the puppy that snapped at him a year ago last August. ... He was the devil 
incarnate. Birch, and I believe his eye-for-an-eye fury could beat old Father Death himself. 
God, what a rage! I'd hate to have it aimed at me! 

"Why did you do it. Birch? He was a scoundrel, and I don't blame you for giving him a cast- 
aside coffin, but you always did go too damned far! Well enough to skimp on the thing some 
way, but you knew what a little man old Fenner was. 

"I'll never get the picture out of my head as long as I live. You kicked hard, for Asaph's coffin 
was on the floor. His head was broken in, and everything was tumbled about. I've seen sights 
before, but there was one thing too much here. An eye for an eye! Great heavens. Birch, but 
you got what you deserved. The skull turned my stomach, but the other was worse — those 
ankles cut neatly off to fit Matt Fenner's cast-aside coffin!" 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Descendant 


In London there is a man who screams when the church bells ring. He lives all alone with his 
streaked cat in Gray's Inn, and people call him harmlessly mad. His room is filled with books 
of the tamest and most puerile kind, and hour after hour he tries to lose himself in their feeble 
pages. All he seeks from life is not to think. For some reason thought is very horrible to him, 
and anything which stirs the imagination he flees as a plague. He is very thin and grey and 
wrinkled, but there are those who declare he is not nearly so old as he looks. Fear has its 
grisly claws upon him, and a sound will make him start with staring eyes and sweat-beaded 
forehead. Friends and companions he shuns, for he wishes to answer no questions. Those 
who once knew him as scholar and aesthete say it is very pitiful to see him now. He dropped 
them all years ago, and no one feels sure whether he left the country or merely sank from 
sight in some hidden byway. It is a decade now since he moved into Gray's Inn, and of where 
he had been he would say nothing till the night young Williams bought the Necronomicon. 

Williams was a dreamer, and only twenty-three, and when he moved into the ancient house 
he felt a strangeness and a breath of cosmic wind about the grey wizened man in the next 
room. He forced his friendship where old friends dared not force theirs, and marvelled at the 
fright that sat upon this gaunt, haggard watcher and listener. For that the man always watched 
and listened no one could doubt. He watched and listened with his mind more than with his 
eyes and ears, and strove every moment to drown something in his ceaseless poring over 
gay, insipid novels. And when the church bells rang he would stop his ears and scream, and 
the grey cat that dwelt with him would howl in unison till the last peal died reverberantly away. 

But try as Williams would, he could not make his neighbour speak of anything profound or 
hidden. The old man would not live up to his aspect and manner, but would feign a smile and 
a light tone and prattle feverishly and frantically of cheerful trifles; his voice every moment 
rising and thickening till at last it would split in a piping and incoherent falsetto. That his 
learning was deep and thorough, his most trivial remarks made abundantly clear; and 
Williams was not surprised to hear that he had been to Harrow and Oxford. Later it developed 
that he was none other than Lord Northam, of whose ancient hereditary castle on the 
Yorkshire coast so many odd things were told; but when Williams tried to talk of the castle, 
and of its reputed Roman origin, he refused to admit that there was anything unusual about it. 
He even tittered shrilly when the subject of the supposed under crypts, hewn out of the solid 
crag that frowns on the North Sea, was brought up. 

So matters went till that night when Williams brought home the infamous Necronomicon of the 
mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. He had known of the dreaded volume since his sixteenth year, 
when his dawning love of the bizarre had led him to ask queer questions of a bent old 
bookseller in Chandos Street; and he had always wondered why men paled when they spoke 
of it. The old bookseller had told him that only five copies were known to have survived the 
shocked edicts of the priests and lawgivers against it and that all of these were locked up with 
frightened care by custodians who had ventured to begin a reading of the hateful black-letter. 
But now, at last, he had not only found an accessible copy but had made it his own at a 
ludicrously low figure. It was at a Jew's shop in the squalid precincts of Clare Market, where 
he had often bought strange things before, and he almost fancied the gnarled old Levite 
smiled amidst tangles of beard as the great discovery was made. The bulky leather cover with 
the brass clasp had been so prominently visible, and the price was so absurdly slight. 

The one glimpse he had had of the title was enough to send him into transports, and some of 
the diagrams set in the vague Latin text excited the tensest and most disquieting recollections 
in his brain. He felt it was highly necessary to get the ponderous thing home and begin 
deciphering it, and bore it out of the shop with such precipitate haste that the old Jew 
chuckled disturbingly behind him. But when at last it was safe in his room he found the 
combination of black-letter and debased idiom too much for his powers as a linguist, and 
reluctantly called on his strange, frightened friend for help with the twisted, mediaeval Latin. 
Lord Northam was simpering inanities to his streaked cat, and started violently when the 
young man entered. Then he saw the volume and shuddered wildly, and fainted altogether 
when Williams uttered the title. It was when he regained his senses that he told his story; told 
his fantastic figment of madness in frantic whispers, lest his friend be not quick to burn the 
accursed book and give wide scattering to its ashes. 

There must. Lord Northam whispered, have been something wrong at the start; but it would 
never have come to a head if he had not explored too far. He was the nineteenth Baron of a 
line whose beginnings went uncomfortably far back into the past — unbelievably far, if vague 
tradition could be heeded, for there were family tales of a descent from pre-Saxon times, 
when a certain Cnaeus Gabinius Capito, military tribune in the Third Augustan Legion then 
stationed at Lindum in Roman Britain, had been summarily expelled from his command for 
participation in certain rites unconnected with any known religion. Gabinius had, the rumour 
ran, come upon a cliffside cavern where strange folk met together and made the Elder Sign in 
the dark; strange folk whom the Britons knew not save in fear, and who were the last to 
survive from a great land in the west that had sunk, leaving only the islands with the raths and 
circles and shrines of which Stonehenge was the greatest. There was no certainty, of course, 
in the legend that Gabinius had built an impregnable fortress over the forbidden cave and 
founded a line which Pict and Saxon, Dane and Norman were powerless to obliterate; or in 
the tacit assumption that from this line sprang the bold companion and lieutenant of the Black 
Prince whom Edward Third created Baron of Northam. These things were not certain, yet they 
were often told; and in truth the stonework of Northam Keep did look alarmingly like the 
masonry of Hadrian's Wall. As a child Lord Northam had had peculiar dreams when sleeping 
in the older parts of the castle, and had acquired a constant habit of looking back through his 
memory for half-amorphous scenes and patterns and impressions which formed no part of his 
waking experience. He became a dreamer who found life tame and unsatisfying; a searcher 
for strange realms and relationships once familiar, yet lying nowhere in the visible regions of 

Filled with a feeling that our tangible world is only an atom in a fabric vast and ominous, and 
that unknown demesnes press on and permeate the sphere of the known at every point, 
Northam in youth and young manhood drained in turn the founts of formal religion and occult 
mystery. Nowhere, however, could he find ease and content; and as he grew older the 
staleness and limitations of life became more and more maddening to him. During the 
'nineties he dabbled in Satanism, and at all times he devoured avidly any doctrine or theory 
which seemed to promise escape from the close vistas of science and the dully unvarying 
laws of Nature. Books like Ignatius Donnelly's chimerical account of Atlantis he absorbed with 
zest, and a dozen obscure precursors of Charles Fort enthralled him with their vagaries. He 
would travel leagues to follow up a furtive village tale of abnormal wonder, and once went into 
the desert of Araby to seek a Nameless City of faint report, which no man has ever beheld. 
There rose within him the tantalising faith that somewhere an easy gate existed, which if one 

found would admit him freely to those outer deeps whose echoes rattled so dimly at the back 
of his memory. It might be in the visible world, yet it might be only in his mind and soul. 
Perhaps he held within his own half-explored brain that cryptic link which would awaken him 
to elder and future lives in forgotten dimensions; which would bind him to the stars, and to the 
infinities and eternities beyond them. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Cool Air 


You ask me to explain why I am afraid of a draught of cool air; why I shiver more than others 
upon entering a cold room, and seem nauseated and repelled when the chill of evening 
creeps through the heat of a mild autumn day. There are those who say I respond to cold as 
others do to a bad odour, and I am the last to deny the impression. What I will do is to relate 
the most horrible circumstance I ever encountered, and leave it to you to judge whether or not 
this forms a suitable explanation of my peculiarity. 

It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence, and 
solitude. I found it in the glare of mid-afternoon, in the clangour of a metropolis, and in the 
teeming midst of a shabby and commonplace rooming-house with a prosaic landlady and two 
stalwart men by my side. In the spring of 1923 I had secured some dreary and unprofitable 
magazine work in the city of New York; and being unable to pay any substantial rent, began 
drifting from one cheap boarding establishment to another in search of a room which might 
combine the qualities of decent cleanliness, endurable furnishings, and very reasonable price. 
It soon developed that I had only a choice between different evils, but after a time I came 
upon a house in West Fourteenth Street which disgusted me much less than the others I had 

The place was a four-story mansion of brownstone, dating apparently from the late forties, 
and fitted with woodwork and marble whose stained and sullied splendour argued a descent 
from high levels of tasteful opulence. In the rooms, large and lofty, and decorated with 
impossible paper and ridiculously ornate stucco cornices, there lingered a depressing 
mustiness and hint of obscure cookery; but the floors were clean, the linen tolerably regular, 
and the hot water not too often cold or turned off, so that I came to regard it as at least a 
bearable place to hibernate till one might really live again. The landlady, a slatternly, almost 
bearded Spanish woman named Herrero, did not annoy me with gossip or with criticisms of 
the late-burning electric light in my third-floor front hall room; and my fellow-lodgers were as 
quiet and uncommunicative as one might desire, being mostly Spaniards a little above the 
coarsest and crudest grade. Only the din of street cars in the thoroughfare below proved a 
serious annoyance. 

I had been there about three weeks when the first odd incident occurred. One evening at 
about eight I heard a spattering on the floor and became suddenly aware that I had been 
smelling the pungent odour of ammonia for some time. Looking about, I saw that the ceiling 
was wet and dripping; the soaking apparently proceeding from a corner on the side toward 
the street. Anxious to stop the matter at its source, I hastened to the basement to tell the 
landlady; and was assured by her that the trouble would quickly be set right. 

"Doctair Munoz," she cried as she rushed upstairs ahead of me, "he have speel hees 
chemicals. He ees too seeck for doctair heemself — seecker and seecker all the time — but he 
weel not have no othair for help. He ees vairy queer in hees seeckness — all day he take 
funnee-smelling baths, and he cannot get excite or warm. All hees own housework he do — 
hees leetle room are full of bottles and machines, and he do not work as doctair. But he was 
great once — my fathair in Barcelona have hear of heem — and only joost now he feex a arm of 
the plumber that get hurt of sudden. He nevair go out, only on roof, and my boy Esteban he 
breeng heem hees food and laundry and mediceens and chemicals. My Gawd, the sal- 
ammoniac that man use for keep heem cool!" 

Mrs. Herrero disappeared up the staircase to tlie fourtli floor, and I returned to my room. Tine 
ammonia ceased to drip, and as I cleaned up what had spilled and opened the window for air, 
I heard the landlady's heavy footsteps above me. Dr. Muhoz I had never heard, save for 
certain sounds as of some gasoline-driven mechanism; since his step was soft and gentle. I 
wondered for a moment what the strange affliction of this man might be, and whether his 
obstinate refusal of outside aid were not the result of a rather baseless eccentricity. There is, I 
reflected tritely, an infinite deal of pathos in the state of an eminent person who has come 
down in the world. 

I might never have known Dr. Muhoz had it not been for the heart attack that suddenly seized 
me one forenoon as I sat writing in my room. Physicians had told me of the danger of those 
spells, and I knew there was no time to be lost; so remembering what the landlady had said 
about the invalid's help of the injured workman, ! dragged myself upstairs and knocked feebly 
at the door above mine. My knock was answered in good English by a curious voice some 
distance to the right, asking my name and business; and these things being stated, there 
came an opening of the door next to the one I had sought. 

A rush of cool air greeted me; and though the day was one of the hottest of late June, I 
shivered as I crossed the threshold into a large apartment whose rich and tasteful decoration 
surprised me in this nest of squalor and seediness. A folding couch now filled its diurnal role 
of sofa, and the mahogany furniture, sumptuous hangings, old paintings, and mellow 
bookshelves all bespoke a gentleman's study rather than a boarding-house bedroom. I now 
saw that the hall room above mine — the "leetle room" of bottles and machines which Mrs. 
Herrero had mentioned — was merely the laboratory of the doctor; and that his main living 
quarters lay in the spacious adjoining room whose convenient alcoves and large contiguous 
bathroom permitted him to hide all dressers and obtrusive utilitarian devices. Dr. Muhoz, most 
certainly, was a man of birth, cultivation, and discrimination. 

The figure before me was short but exquisitely proportioned, and clad in somewhat formal 
dress of perfect cut and fit. A high-bred face of masterful though not arrogant expression was 
adorned by a short iron-grey full beard, and an old-fashioned pince-nez shielded the full, dark 
eyes and surmounted an aquiline nose which gave a Moorish touch to a physiognomy 
otherwise dominantly Celtiberian. Thick, well-trimmed hair that argued the punctual calls of a 
barber was parted gracefully above a high forehead; and the whole picture was one of striking 
intelligence and superior blood and breeding. 

Nevertheless, as I saw Dr. Muhoz in that blast of cool air, I felt a repugnance which nothing in 
his aspect could justify. Only his lividly inclined complexion and coldness of touch could have 
afforded a physical basis for this feeling, and even these things should have been excusable 
considering the man's known invalidism. It might, too, have been the singular cold that 
alienated me; for such chilliness was abnormal on so hot a day, and the abnormal always 
excites aversion, distrust, and fear. 

But repugnance was soon forgotten in admiration, for the strange physician's extreme skill at 
once became manifest despite the ice-coldness and shakiness of his bloodless-looking 
hands. He clearly understood my needs at a glance, and ministered to them with a master's 
deftness; the while reassuring me in a finely modulated though oddly hollow and timbreless 
voice that he was the bitterest of sworn enemies to death, and had sunk his fortune and lost 
all his friends in a lifetime of bizarre experiment devoted to its bafflement and extirpation. 
Something of the benevolent fanatic seemed to reside in him, and he rambled on almost 
garrulously as he sounded my chest and mixed a suitable draught of drugs fetched from the 
smaller laboratory room. Evidently he found the society of a well-born man a rare novelty in 

this dingy environment, and was moved to unaccustomed speecli as memories of better days 
surged over liim. 

His voice, If queer, was at least soothing; and I could not even perceive that he breathed as 
the fluent sentences rolled urbanely out. He sought to distract my mind from my own seizure 
by speaking of his theories and experiments; and I remember his tactfully consoling me about 
my weak heart by insisting that will and consciousness are stronger than organic life itself, so 
that if a bodily frame be but originally healthy and carefully preserved, it may through a 
scientific enhancement of these qualities retain a kind of nervous animation despite the most 
serious Impairments, defects, or even absences in the battery of specific organs. He might, he 
half jestingly said, some day teach me to live — or at least to possess some kind of conscious 
existence — without any heart at all! For his part, he was afflicted with a complication of 
maladies requiring a very exact regimen which included constant cold. Any marked rise In 
temperature might. If prolonged, affect him fatally; and the frigidity of his habitation — some 55 
or 56 degrees Fahrenheit — was maintained by an absorption system of ammonia cooling, the 
gasoline engine of whose pumps I had often heard in my own room below. 

Relieved of my seizure in a marvellously short while, I left the shivery place a disciple and 
devotee of the gifted recluse. After that I paid him frequent overcoated calls; listening while he 
told of secret researches and almost ghastly results, and trembling a bit when I examined the 
unconventional and astonishingly ancient volumes on his shelves. I was eventually, I may 
add, almost cured of my disease for all time by his skilful ministrations. It seems that he did 
not scorn the incantations of the mediaevalists, since he believed these cryptic formulae to 
contain rare psychological stimuli which might conceivably have singular effects on the 
substance of a nervous system from which organic pulsations had fled. I was touched by his 
account of the aged Dr. Torres of Valencia, who had shared his earlier experiments with him 
through the great illness of eighteen years before, whence his present disorders proceeded. 
No sooner had the venerable practitioner saved his colleague than he himself succumbed to 
the grim enemy he had fought. Perhaps the strain had been too great; for Dr. Munoz made it 
whisperingly clear — though not in detail — that the methods of healing had been most 
extraordinary, involving scenes and processes not welcomed by elderly and conservative 

As the weeks passed, I observed with regret that my new friend was indeed slowly but 
unmistakably losing ground physically, as Mrs. Herrero had suggested. The livid aspect of his 
countenance was Intensified, his voice became more hollow and Indistinct, his muscular 
motions were less perfectly coordinated, and his mind and will displayed less resilience and 
initiative. Of this sad change he seemed by no means unaware, and little by little his 
expression and conversation both took on a gruesome irony which restored in me something 
of the subtle repulsion I had originally felt. 

He developed strange caprices, acquiring a fondness for exotic spices and Egyptian Incense 
till his room smelled like the vault of a sepulchred Pharaoh in the Valley of Kings. At the same 
time his demands for cold air increased, and with my aid he amplified the ammonia piping of 
his room and modified the pumps and feed of his refrigerating machine till he could keep the 
temperature as low as 34° or 40° and finally even 28°; the bathroom and laboratory, of 
course, being less chilled, in order that water might not freeze, and that chemical processes 
might not be impeded. The tenant adjoining him complained of the icy air from around the 
connecting door, so I helped him fit heavy hangings to obviate the difficulty. A kind of growing 
horror, of outre and morbid cast, seemed to possess him. He talked of death incessantly, but 
laughed hollowly when such things as burial or funeral arrangements were gently suggested. 

All in all, he became a disconcerting and even gruesome companion; yet in my gratitude for 
his healing I could not well abandon him to the strangers around him, and was careful to dust 
his room and attend to his needs each day, muffled in a heavy ulster which I bought especially 
for the purpose. I likewise did much of his shopping, and gasped in bafflement at some of the 
chemicals he ordered from druggists and laboratory supply houses. 

An increasing and unexplained atmosphere of panic seemed to rise around his apartment. 
The whole house, as I have said, had a musty odour; but the smell in his room was worse — 
and in spite of all the spices and incense, and the pungent chemicals of the now incessant 
baths which he insisted on taking unaided. I perceived that it must be connected with his 
ailment, and shuddered when I reflected on what that ailment might be. IVIrs. Herrero crossed 
herself when she looked at him, and gave him up unreservedly to me; not even letting her son 
Esteban continue to run errands for him. When I suggested other physicians, the sufferer 
would fly into as much of a rage as he seemed to dare to entertain. He evidently feared the 
physical effect of violent emotion, yet his will and driving force waxed rather than waned, and 
he refused to be confined to his bed. The lassitude of his earlier ill days gave place to a return 
of his fiery purpose, so that he seemed about to hurl defiance at the death-daemon even as 
that ancient enemy seized him. The pretence of eating, always curiously like a formality with 
him, he virtually abandoned; and mental power alone appeared to keep him from total 

He acquired a habit of writing long documents of some sort, which he carefully sealed and 
filled with injunctions that I transmit them after his death to certain persons whom he named — 
for the most part lettered East Indians, but including a once celebrated French physician now 
generally thought dead, and about whom the most inconceivable things had been whispered. 
As it happened, I burned all these papers undelivered and unopened. His aspect and voice 
became utterly frightful, and his presence almost unbearable. One September day an 
unexpected glimpse of him induced an epileptic fit in a man who had come to repair his 
electric desk lamp; a fit for which he prescribed effectively whilst keeping himself well out of 
sight. That man, oddly enough, had been through the terrors of the Great War without having 
incurred any fright so thorough. 

Then, in the middle of October, the horror of horrors came with stupefying suddenness. One 
night about eleven the pump of the refrigerating machine broke down, so that within three 
hours the process of ammonia cooling became impossible. Dr. IVIuhoz summoned me by 
thumping on the floor, and I worked desperately to repair the injury while my host cursed in a 
tone whose lifeless, rattling hollowness surpassed description. My amateur efforts, however, 
proved of no use; and when I had brought in a mechanic from a neighbouring all-night garage 
we learned that nothing could be done till morning, when a new piston would have to be 
obtained. The moribund hermit's rage and fear, swelling to grotesque proportions, seemed 
likely to shatter what remained of his failing physique; and once a spasm caused him to clap 
his hands to his eyes and rush into the bathroom. He groped his way out with face tightly 
bandaged, and I never saw his eyes again. 

The frigidity of the apartment was now sensibly diminishing, and at about 5 a.m. the doctor 
retired to the bathroom, commanding me to keep him supplied with all the ice I could obtain at 
all-night drug stores and cafeterias. As I would return from my sometimes discouraging trips 
and lay my spoils before the closed bathroom door, I could hear a restless splashing within, 
and a thick voice croaking out the order for "More — more!" At length a warm day broke, and 
the shops opened one by one. I asked Esteban either to help with the ice-fetching whilst I 

obtained the pump piston, or to order tine piston wliile I continued witli tine ice; but instructed 
by liis motlier, lie absolutely refused. 

Finally I hired a seedy-looking loafer whom I encountered on the corner of Eighth Avenue to 
keep the patient supplied with ice from a little shop where I introduced him, and applied 
myself diligently to the task of finding a pump piston and engaging workmen competent to 
install it. The task seemed interminable, and I raged almost as violently as the hermit when I 
saw the hours slipping by in a breathless, foodless round of vain telephoning, and a hectic 
quest from place to place, hither and thither by subway and surface car. About noon I 
encountered a suitable supply house far downtown, and at approximately 1 :30 p.m. arrived at 
my boarding-place with the necessary paraphernalia and two sturdy and intelligent 
mechanics. I had done all I could, and hoped I was in time. 

Black terror, however, had preceded me. The house was in utter turmoil, and above the 
chatter of awed voices I heard a man praying in a deep basso. Fiendish things were in the air, 
and lodgers told over the beads of their rosaries as they caught the odour from beneath the 
doctor's closed door. The lounger I had hired, it seems, had fled screaming and mad-eyed not 
long after his second delivery of ice; perhaps as a result of excessive curiosity. He could not, 
of course, have locked the door behind him; yet it was now fastened, presumably from the 
inside. There was no sound within save a nameless sort of slow, thick dripping. 

Briefly consulting with IVIrs. Herrero and the workmen despite a fear that gnawed my inmost 
soul, I advised the breaking down of the door; but the landlady found a way to turn the key 
from the outside with some wire device. We had previously opened the doors of all the other 
rooms on that hall, and flung all the windows to the very top. Now, noses protected by 
handkerchiefs, we tremblingly invaded the accursed south room which blazed with the warm 
sun of early afternoon. 

A kind of dark, slimy trail led from the open bathroom door to the hall door, and thence to the 
desk, where a terrible little pool had accumulated. Something was scrawled there in pencil in 
an awful, blind hand on a piece of paper hideously smeared as though by the very claws that 
traced the hurried last words. Then the trail led to the couch and ended unutterably. 

What was, or had been, on the couch I cannot and dare not say here. But this is what I 
shiveringly puzzled out on the stickily smeared paper before I drew a match and burned it to a 
crisp; what I puzzled out in terror as the landlady and two mechanics rushed frantically from 
that hellish place to babble their incoherent stories at the nearest police station. The 
nauseous words seemed well-nigh incredible in that yellow sunlight, with the clatter of cars 
and motor trucks ascending clamorously from crowded Fourteenth Street, yet I confess that I 
believed them then. Whether I believe them now I honestly do not know. There are things 
about which it is better not to speculate, and all that I can say is that I hate the smell of 
ammonia, and grow faint at a draught of unusually cool air. 

"The end," ran that noisome scrawl, "is here. No more ice — the man looked and ran away. 
Warmer every minute, and the tissues can't last. I fancy you know — what I said about the will 
and the nerves and the preserved body after the organs ceased to work. It was good theory, 
but couldn't keep up indefinitely. There was a gradual deterioration I had not foreseen. Dr. 
Torres knew, but the shock killed him. He couldn't stand what he had to do — he had to get me 
in a strange, dark place when he minded my letter and nursed me back. And the organs never 
would work again. It had to be done my way — artificial preservation — for you see I died that 
time eighteen years ago. " 

Return to Table of Contents 

The Call of Cthulhu 


(Found Among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston) 

"Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival ... a survival 
of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in 
shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . . 
forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called 
them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . ." 

— Algernon Blackwood. 

I. The Horror in Clay. 

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all 
its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it 
was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, 
have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge 
will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall 
either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a 
new dark age. 

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world 
and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms 
which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that 
there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and 
maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out 
from an accidental piecing together of separated things — in this case an old newspaper item 
and the notes of a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; 
certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I think that the 
professor, too, intended to keep silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would have 
destroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him. 

iVIy knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the death of my grand-uncle 
George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown University, 
Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient 
inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of prominent museums; so that 
his passing at the age of ninety-two may be recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified 
by the obscurity of the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning from 
the Newport boat; falling suddenly, as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a nautical- 
looking negro who had come from one of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside 
which formed a short cut from the waterfront to the deceased's home in Williams Street. 
Physicians were unable to find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that 
some obscure lesion of the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a 
man, was responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, but 
latterly I am inclined to wonder — and more than wonder. 

As my grand-uncle's heir and executor, for he died a childless widower, I was expected to go 
over his papers with some thoroughness; and for that purpose moved his entire set of files 

and boxes to my quarters in Boston. Much of the material which I correlated will be later 
published by the American Archaeological Society, but there was one box which I found 
exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much averse from shewing to other eyes. It had been 
locked, and I did not find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal ring which the 
professor carried always in his pocket. Then indeed I succeeded in opening it, but when I did 
so seemed only to be confronted by a greater and more closely locked barrier. For what could 
be the meaning of the queer clay bas-relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings, and cuttings 
which I found? Had my uncle, in his latter years, become credulous of the most superficial 
impostures? I resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for this apparent 
disturbance of an old man's peace of mind. 

The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six inches in 
area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modern in atmosphere 
and suggestion; for although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many and wild, they do 
not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of 
some kind the bulk of these designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite 
much familiarity with the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this 
particular species, or even to hint at its remotest affiliations. 

Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evidently pictorial intent, though its 
impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of 
monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could 
conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of 
an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the 
thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary 
wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. 
Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background. 

The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings, in Professor 
Angell's most recent hand; and made no pretence to literary style. What seemed to be the 
main document was headed "CTHULHU CULT" in characters painstakingly printed to avoid 
the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. The manuscript was divided into two sections, 
the first of which was headed "1925 — Dream and Dream Work of H. A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., 
Providence, R.I.", and the second, "Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., 
New Orleans, La., at 1 908 A. A. S. Mtg.— Notes on Same, & Prof. Webb's Acct." The other 
manuscript papers were all brief notes, some of them accounts of the queer dreams of 
different persons, some of them citations from theosophical books and magazines (notably W. 
Scott-Elliot's Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria), and the rest comments on long-surviving secret 
societies and hidden cults, with references to passages in such mythological and 
anthropological source-books as Frazer's Golden Bough and Miss Murray's Witch-Cult in 
Western Europe. The cuttings largely alluded to outre mental illnesses and outbreaks of group 
folly or mania in the spring of 1925. 

The first half of the principal manuscript told a very peculiar tale. It appears that on March 1st, 
1925, a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect had called upon Professor Angell 
bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was then exceedingly damp and fresh. His card 
bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my uncle had recognised him as the youngest 
son of an excellent family slightly known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture at 
the Rhode Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near that 
institution. Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius but great eccentricity, and had 
from childhood excited attention through the strange stories and odd dreams he was in the 

habit of relating. He called himself "psychically hypersensitive", but the staid folk of the ancient 
commercial city dismissed him as merely "queer". Never mingling much with his kind, he had 
dropped gradually from social visibility, and was now known only to a small group of 
aesthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its 
conservatism, had found him quite hopeless. 

On the occasion of the visit, ran the professor's manuscript, the sculptor abruptly asked for 
the benefit of his host's archaeological knowledge in identifying the hieroglyphics on the bas- 
relief. He spoke in a dreamy, stilted manner which suggested pose and alienated sympathy; 
and my uncle shewed some sharpness in replying, for the conspicuous freshness of the tablet 
implied kinship with anything but archaeology. Young Wilcox's rejoinder, which impressed my 
uncle enough to make him recall and record it verbatim, was of a fantastically poetic cast 
which must have typified his whole conversation, and which I have since found highly 
characteristic of him. He said, "It is new, indeed, for I made it last night in a dream of strange 
cities; and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, or garden- 
girdled Babylon." 

It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a sleeping memory 
and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a slight earthquake tremor the 
night before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years; and Wilcox's 
imagination had been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of 
great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze 
and sinister with latent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from some 
undetermined point below had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic sensation which 
only fancy could transmute into sound, but which he attempted to render by the almost 
unpronounceable jumble of letters, "Cthulhu fhtagn". 

This verbal jumble was the key to the recollection which excited and disturbed Professor 
Angell. He questioned the sculptor with scientific minuteness; and studied with almost frantic 
intensity the bas-relief on which the youth had found himself working, chilled and clad only in 
his night-clothes, when waking had stolen bewilderingly over him. My uncle blamed his old 
age, Wilcox afterward said, for his slowness in recognising both hieroglyphics and pictorial 
design. Many of his questions seemed highly out-of-place to his visitor, especially those which 
tried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could not understand the 
repeated promises of silence which he was offered in exchange for an admission of 
membership in some widespread mystical or paganly religious body. When Professor Angell 
became convinced that the sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, 
he besieged his visitor with demands for future reports of dreams. This bore regular fruit, for 
after the first interview the manuscript records daily calls of the young man, during which he 
related startling fragments of nocturnal imagery whose burden was always some terrible 
Cyclopean vista of dark and dripping stone, with a subterrene voice or intelligence shouting 
monotonously in enigmatical sense-impacts uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds 
most frequently repeated are those rendered by the letters "Cthulhu" and "R'lyeh". 

On March 23d, the manuscript continued, Wilcox failed to appear; and inquiries at his 
quarters revealed that he had been stricken with an obscure sort of fever and taken to the 
home of his family in Waterman Street. He had cried out in the night, arousing several other 
artists in the building, and had manifested since then only alternations of unconsciousness 
and delirium. My uncle at once telephoned the family, and from that time forward kept close 
watch of the case; calling often at the Thayer Street office of Dr. Tobey, whom he learned to 
be in charge. The youth's febrile mind, apparently, was dwelling on strange things; and the 

doctor shuddered now and then as he spoke of them. They included not only a repetition of 
what he had formerly dreamed, but touched wildly on a gigantic thing "miles high" which 
walked or lumbered about. He at no time fully described this object, but occasional frantic 
words, as repeated by Dr. Tobey, convinced the professor that it must be identical with the 
nameless monstrosity he had sought to depict in his dream-sculpture. Reference to this 
object, the doctor added, was invariably a prelude to the young man's subsidence into 
lethargy. His temperature, oddly enough, was not greatly above normal; but his whole 
condition was otherwise such as to suggest true fever rather than mental disorder. 

On April 2nd at about 3 p.m. every trace of Wilcox's malady suddenly ceased. He sat upright 
in bed, astonished to find himself at home and completely ignorant of what had happened in 
dream or reality since the night of March 22nd. Pronounced well by his physician, he returned 
to his quarters in three days; but to Professor Angell he was of no further assistance. All 
traces of strange dreaming had vanished with his recovery, and my uncle kept no record of 
his night-thoughts after a week of pointless and irrelevant accounts of thoroughly usual 

Here the first part of the manuscript ended, but references to certain of the scattered notes 
gave me much material for thought — so much, in fact, that only the ingrained scepticism then 
forming my philosophy can account for my continued distrust of the artist. The notes in 
question were those descriptive of the dreams of various persons covering the same period 
as that in which young Wilcox had had his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, had quickly 
instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquiries amongst nearly all the friends whom he 
could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, and the dates 
of any notable visions for some time past. The reception of his request seems to have been 
varied; but he must, at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinary man 
could have handled without a secretary. This original correspondence was not preserved, but 
his notes formed a thorough and really significant digest. Average people in society and 
business — New England's traditional "salt of the earth" — gave an almost completely negative 
result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal impressions appear here and 
there, always between March 23d and April 2nd — the period of young Wilcox's delirium. 
Scientific men were little more affected, though four cases of vague description suggest 
fugitive glimpses of strange landscapes, and in one case there is mentioned a dread of 
something abnormal. 

It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know that panic would 
have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it was, lacking their original 
letters, I half suspected the compiler of having asked leading questions, or of having edited 
the correspondence in corroboration of what he had latently resolved to see. That is why I 
continued to feel that Wilcox, somehow cognisant of the old data which my uncle had 
possessed, had been imposing on the veteran scientist. These responses from aesthetes told 
a disturbing tale. From February 28th to April 2nd a large proportion of them had dreamed 
very bizarre things, the intensity of the dreams being immeasurably the stronger during the 
period of the sculptor's delirium. Over a fourth of those who reported anything, reported 
scenes and half-sounds not unlike those which Wilcox had described; and some of the 
dreamers confessed acute fear of the gigantic nameless thing visible toward the last. One 
case, which the note describes with emphasis, was very sad. The subject, a widely known 
architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism, went violently insane on the date of 
young Wilcox's seizure, and expired several months later after incessant screamings to be 
saved from some escaped denizen of hell. Had my uncle referred to these cases by name 

instead of merely by number, I should have attempted some corroboration and personal 

investigation; but as it was, I succeeded in tracing down only a few. All of these, however, 
bore out the notes in full. I have often wondered if all the objects of the professor's 
questioning felt as puzzled as did this fraction. It is well that no explanation shall ever reach 

The press cuttings, as I have intimated, touched on cases of panic, mania, and eccentricity 
during the given period. Professor Angell must have employed a cutting bureau, for the 
number of extracts was tremendous and the sources scattered throughout the globe. Here 
was a nocturnal suicide in London, where a lone sleeper had leaped from a window after a 
shocking cry. Here likewise a rambling letter to the editor of a paper in South America, where 
a fanatic deduces a dire future from visions he has seen. A despatch from California 
describes a theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some "glorious 
fulfilment" which never arrives, whilst items from India speak guardedly of serious native 
unrest toward the end of March. Voodoo orgies multiply in Hayti, and African outposts report 
ominous mutterings. American officers in the Philippines find certain tribes bothersome about 
this time, and New York policemen are mobbed by hysterical Levantines on the night of IVIarch 
22-23. The west of Ireland, too, is full of wild rumour and legendry, and a fantastic painter 
named Ardois-Bonnot hangs a blasphemous "Dream Landscape" in the Paris spring salon of 
1926. And so numerous are the recorded troubles in insane asylums, that only a miracle can 
have stopped the medical fraternity from noting strange parallelisms and drawing mystified 
conclusions. A weird bunch of cuttings, all told; and I can at this date scarcely envisage the 
callous rationalism with which I set them aside. But I was then convinced that young Wilcox 
had known of the older matters mentioned by the professor. 

II. The Tale of Inspector Legrasse. 

The older matters which had made the sculptor's dream and bas-relief so significant to my 
uncle formed the subject of the second half of his long manuscript. Once before, it appears. 
Professor Angell had seen the hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over the 
unknown hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as 
"CthulhW; and all this in so stirring and horrible a connexion that it is small wonder he pursued 
young Wilcox with queries and demands for data. 

The earlier experience had come in 1 908, seventeen years before, when the American 
Archaeological Society held its annual meeting in St. Louis. Professor Angell, as befitted one 
of his authority and attainments, had had a prominent part in all the deliberations; and was 
one of the first to be approached by the several outsiders who took advantage of the 
convocation to offer questions for correct answering and problems for expert solution. 

The chief of these outsiders, and in a short time the focus of interest for the entire meeting, 
was a commonplace-looking middle-aged man who had travelled all the way from New 
Orleans for certain special information unobtainable from any local source. His name was 
John Raymond Legrasse, and he was by profession an Inspector of Police. With him he bore 
the subject of his visit, a grotesque, repulsive, and apparently very ancient stone statuette 
whose origin he was at a loss to determine. It must not be fancied that Inspector Legrasse 
had the least interest in archaeology. On the contrary, his wish for enlightenment was 
prompted by purely professional considerations. The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, 
had been captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during 
a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the rites connected 
with it, that the police could not but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally 
unknown to them, and infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo 

circles. Of its origin, apart from tine erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured 
members, absolutely nothing was to be discovered; hence the anxiety of the police for any 
antiquarian lore which might help them to place the frightful symbol, and through it track down 
the cult to its fountain-head. 

Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offering created. One 
sight of the thing had been enough to throw the assembled men of science into a state of 
tense excitement, and they lost no time in crowding around him to gaze at the diminutive 
figure whose utter strangeness and air of genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted so potently at 
unopened and archaic vistas. No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible 
object, yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish 
surface of unplaceable stone. 

The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was 
between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It 
represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose 
face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore 
feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and 
unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a 
rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings 
touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved 
claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of 
the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so 
that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the 
croucher's elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more 
subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable 
age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to 
civilisation's youth — or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material 
was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and 
striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base 
were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world's 
expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic 
kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and 
distinct from mankind as we know it; something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed 
cycles of life in which our world and our conceptions have no part. 

And yet, as the members severally shook their heads and confessed defeat at the inspector's 
problem, there was one man in that gathering who suspected a touch of bizarre familiarity in 
the monstrous shape and writing, and who presently told with some diffidence of the odd trifle 
he knew. This person was the late William Channing Webb, Professor of Anthropology in 
Princeton University, and an explorer of no slight note. Professor Webb had been engaged, 
forty-eight years before, in a tour of Greenland and Iceland in search of some Runic 
inscriptions which he failed to unearth; and whilst high up on the West Greenland coast had 
encountered a singular tribe or cult of degenerate Esquimaux whose religion, a curious form 
of devil-worship, chilled him with its deliberate bloodthirstiness and repulsiveness. It was a 
faith of which other Esquimaux knew little, and which they mentioned only with shudders, 
saying that it had come down from horribly ancient aeons before ever the world was made. 
Besides nameless rites and human sacrifices there were certain queer hereditary rituals 
addressed to a supreme elder devil or tornasuk; and of this Professor Webb had taken a 
careful phonetic copy from an aged angekok or wizard-priest, expressing the sounds in 

Roman letters as best he knew how. But just now of prime significance was the fetish which 
this cult had cherished, and around which they danced when the aurora leaped high over the 
ice cliffs. It was, the professor stated, a very crude bas-relief of stone, comprising a hideous 
picture and some cryptic writing. And so far as he could tell, it was a rough parallel in all 
essential features of the bestial thing now lying before the meeting. 

This data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members, proved 
doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his informant with 
questions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men 
had arrested, he besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken 
down amongst the diabolist Esquimaux. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of 
details, and a moment of really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the 
virtual identity of the phrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. 
What, in substance, both the Esquimau wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had 
chanted to their kindred idols was something very like this — the word-divisions being guessed 
at from traditional breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud: 

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagi fhtagn." 

Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among his mongrel 
prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. This 
text, as given, ran something like this: 

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. " 

And now, in response to a general and urgent demand. Inspector Legrasse related as fully as 
possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a story to which I could see my 
uncle attached profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-maker and 
theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half- 
castes and pariahs as might be expected to possess it. 

On November 1st, 1907, there had come to the New Orleans police a frantic summons from 
the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, mostly primitive but good- 
natured descendants of Lafitte's men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing 
which had stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more 
terrible sort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had 
disappeared since the malevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the 
black haunted woods where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing 
screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger 
added, the people could stand it no more. 

So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had set out in the late 
afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the passable road they 
alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woods where day 
never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, and now 
and then a pile of dank stones or fragment of a rotting wall intensified by its hint of morbid 
habitation a depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined to 
create. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in sight; and 
hysterical dwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat 
of tom-toms was now faintly audible far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent 
intervals when the wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through the pale 
undergrowth beyond endless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, 
each one of the cowed squatters refused point-blank to advance another inch toward the 

scene of unholy worship, so Inspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on 
unguided into black arcades of horror that none of them had ever trod before. 

The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute, substantially 
unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by 
mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and 
squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it 
at midnight. They said it had been there before D'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, 
and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to 
see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The 
present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area, but that location 
was bad enough; hence perhaps the very place of the worship had terrified the squatters 
more than the shocking sounds and incidents. 

Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by Legrasse's men as they 
ploughed on through the black morass toward the red glare and the muffled tom-toms. There 
are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it is terrible to 
hear the one when the source should yield the other. Animal fury and orgiastic licence here 
whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls and squawking ecstasies that tore and 
reverberated through those nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell. 
Now and then the less organised ululation would cease, and from what seemed a well-drilled 
chorus of hoarse voices would rise in sing-song chant that hideous phrase or ritual: 

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagi fhtagn." 

Then the men, having reached a spot where the trees were thinner, came suddenly in sight of 
the spectacle itself. Four of them reeled, one fainted, and two were shaken into a frantic cry 
which the mad cacophony of the orgy fortunately deadened. Legrasse dashed swamp water 
on the face of the fainting man, and all stood trembling and nearly hypnotised with horror. 

In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an acre's extent, clear of 
trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and twisted a more indescribable horde of human 
abnormality than any but a Sime or an Angarola could paint. Void of clothing, this hybrid 
spawn were braying, bellowing, and writhing about a monstrous ring-shaped bonfire; in the 
centre of which, revealed by occasional rifts in the curtain of flame, stood a great granite 
monolith some eight feet in height; on top of which, incongruous with its diminutiveness, 
rested the noxious carven statuette. From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at regular 
intervals with the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head downward, the oddly marred 
bodies of the helpless squatters who had disappeared. It was inside this circle that the ring of 
worshippers jumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from left to 
right in endless Bacchanal between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire. 

It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which induced one of 
the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal responses to the ritual from 
some far and unillumined spot deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. This 
man, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative. 
He indeed went so far as to hint of the faint beating of great wings, and of a glimpse of shining 
eyes and a mountainous white bulk beyond the remotest trees — but I suppose he had been 
hearing too much native superstition. 

Actually, the horrified pause of the men was of comparatively brief duration. Duty came first; 
and although there must have been nearly a hundred mongrel celebrants in the throng, the 
police relied on their firearms and plunged determinedly into the nauseous rout. For five 

minutes the resultant din and cliaos were beyond description. Wild blows were struck, shots 
were fired, and escapes were made; but in the end Legrasse was able to count some forty- 
seven sullen prisoners, whom he forced to dress in haste and fall into line between two rows 
of policemen. Five of the worshippers lay dead, and two severely wounded ones were carried 
away on improvised stretchers by their fellow-prisoners. The image on the monolith, of 
course, was carefully removed and carried back by Legrasse. 

Examined at headquarters after a trip of intense strain and weariness, the prisoners all proved 
to be men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type. IVIost were seamen, and 
a sprinkling of negroes and mulattoes, largely West Indians or Brava Portuguese from the 
Cape Verde Islands, gave a colouring of voodooism to the heterogeneous cult. But before 
many questions were asked, it became manifest that something far deeper and older than 
negro fetichism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the creatures held with 
surprising consistency to the central idea of their loathsome faith. 

They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any 
men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, 
inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to 
the first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisoners 
said it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places 
all over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the 
mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his 
sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always 
be waiting to liberate him. 

IVIeanwhile no more must be told. There was a secret which even torture could not extract. 
IVIankind was not absolutely alone among the conscious things of earth, for shapes came out 
of the dark to visit the faithful few. But these were not the Great Old Ones. No man had ever 
seen the Old Ones. The carven idol was great Cthulhu, but none might say whether or not the 
others were precisely like him. No one could read the old writing now, but things were told by 
word of mouth. The chanted ritual was not the secret — that was never spoken aloud, only 
whispered. The chant meant only this: "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." 

Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and the rest were 
committed to various institutions. All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averred that the 
killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorial 
meeting-place in the haunted wood. But of those mysterious allies no coherent account could 
ever be gained. What the police did extract, came mainly from an immensely aged mestizo 
named Castro, who claimed to have sailed to strange ports and talked with undying leaders of 
the cult in the mountains of China. 

Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that paled the speculations of theosophists 
and made man and the world seem recent and transient indeed. There had been aeons when 
other Things ruled on the earth, and They had had great cities. Remains of Them, he said the 
deathless Chinamen had told him, were still to be found as Cyclopean stones on islands in 
the Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which 
could revive Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of 
eternity. They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with 

These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. 
They had shape — for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? — but that shape was not 

made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the 
sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived. 
They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, 
preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the 
earth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must 
serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them 
from making an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst 
uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but 
Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, 
after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among 
them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of 

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great 
Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till 
the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to 
revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then 
mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, 
with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then 
the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy 
themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. 
Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways 
and shadow forth the prophecy of their return. 

In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams, but then 
something had happened. The great stone city R'lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres, had 
sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which 
not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, and 
high-priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out of 
the earth the black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked up in 
caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not speak much. He cut 
himself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion or subtlety could elicit more in this 
direction. The size of the Old Ones, too, he curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he said 
that he thought the centre lay amid the pathless deserts of Arabia, where Irem, the City of 
Pillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was 
virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the 
deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad 
Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much- 
discussed couplet: 

That is not dead which can eternal lie. 

And with strange aeons even death may die." 

Legrasse, deeply impressed and not a little bewildered, had inquired in vain concerning the 
historic affiliations of the cult. Castro, apparently, had told the truth when he said that it was 
wholly secret. The authorities at Tulane University could shed no light upon either cult or 
image, and now the detective had come to the highest authorities in the country and met with 
no more than the Greenland tale of Professor Webb. 

The feverish interest aroused at the meeting by Legrasse's tale, corroborated as it was by the 
statuette, is echoed in the subsequent correspondence of those who attended; although scant 

mention occurs in tine formal publications of the society. Caution is the first care of those 

accustomed to face occasional charlatanry and Imposture. Legrasse for some time lent the 
image to Professor Webb, but at the latter's death it was returned to him and remains in his 
possession, where I viewed it not long ago. It is truly a terrible thing, and unmistakably akin to 
the dream-sculpture of young Wilcox. 

That my uncle was excited by the tale of the sculptor I did not wonder, for what thoughts must 
arise upon hearing, after a knowledge of what Legrasse had learned of the cult, of a sensitive 
young man who had dreamed not only the figure and exact hieroglyphics of the swamp-found 
image and the Greenland devil tablet, but had come in his dreams upon at least three of the 
precise words of the formula uttered alike by Esquimau diabolists and mongrel Louisianans? 
Professor Angell's instant start on an investigation of the utmost thoroughness was eminently 
natural; though privately I suspected young Wilcox of having heard of the cult in some indirect 
way, and of having invented a series of dreams to heighten and continue the mystery at my 
uncle's expense. The dream-narratives and cuttings collected by the professor were, of 
course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and the extravagance of the 
whole subject led me to adopt what I thought the most sensible conclusions. So, after 
thoroughly studying the manuscript again and correlating the theosophical and 
anthropological notes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to Providence to see 
the sculptor and give him the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly imposing upon a learned 
and aged man. 

Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas Street, a hideous Victorian 
imitation of seventeenth-century Breton architecture which flaunts its stuccoed front amidst 
the lovely colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the finest 
Georgian steeple in America. I found him at work in his rooms, and at once conceded from 
the specimens scattered about that his genius is indeed profound and authentic. He will, I 
believe, some time be heard from as one of the great decadents; for he has crystallised in 
clay and will one day mirror in marble those nightmares and phantasies which Arthur Machen 
evokes in prose, and Clark Ashton Smith makes visible in verse and in painting. 

Dark, frail, and somewhat unkempt in aspect, he turned languidly at my knock and asked me 
my business without rising. When I told him who I was, he displayed some interest; for my 
uncle had excited his curiosity in probing his strange dreams, yet had never explained the 
reason for the study. I did not enlarge his knowledge in this regard, but sought with some 
subtlety to draw him out. In a short time I became convinced of his absolute sincerity, for he 
spoke of the dreams in a manner none could mistake. They and their subconscious residuum 
had influenced his art profoundly, and he shewed me a morbid statue whose contours almost 
made me shake with the potency of its black suggestion. He could not recall having seen the 
original of this thing except in his own dream bas-relief, but the outlines had formed 
themselves insensibly under his hands. It was, no doubt, the giant shape he had raved of in 
delirium. That he really knew nothing of the hidden cult, save from what my uncle's relentless 
catechism had let fall, he soon made clear; and again I strove to think of some way in which 
he could possibly have received the weird impressions. 

He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with terrible vividness 
the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone — whose geometry, he oddly said, was all 
wrong— and hear with frightened expectancy the ceaseless, half-mental calling from 
underground: "Cthulhu fhtagn", "Cthulhu fhtagrf'. These words had formed part of that dread 
ritual which told of dead Cthulhu's dream-vigil in his stone vault at R'lyeh, and I felt deeply 
moved despite my rational beliefs. Wilcox, I was sure, had heard of the cult in some casual 

way, and had soon forgotten it amidst tine mass of liis equally weird reading and imagining. 
Later, by virtue of its sheer impressiveness, it had found subconscious expression in dreams, 
in the bas-relief, and in the terrible statue I now beheld; so that his imposture upon my uncle 
had been a very innocent one. The youth was of a type, at once slightly affected and slightly 
ill-mannered, which I could never like; but I was willing enough now to admit both his genius 
and his honesty. I took leave of him amicably, and wish him all the success his talent 

The matter of the cult still remained to fascinate me, and at times I had visions of personal 
fame from researches into its origin and connexions. I visited New Orleans, talked with 
Legrasse and others of that old-time raiding-party, saw the frightful image, and even 
questioned such of the mongrel prisoners as still survived. Old Castro, unfortunately, had 
been dead for some years. What I now heard so graphically at first-hand, though it was really 
no more than a detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I felt 
sure that I was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose 
discovery would make me an anthropologist of note. My attitude was still one of absolute 
materialism, as I wish it still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the 
coincidence of the dream notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor Angell. 

One thing I began to suspect, and which I now fear I know, is that my uncle's death was far 
from natural. He fell on a narrow hill street leading up from an ancient waterfront swarming 
with foreign mongrels, after a careless push from a negro sailor. I did not forget the mixed 
blood and marine pursuits of the cult-members in Louisiana, and would not be surprised to 
learn of secret methods and poison needles as ruthless and as anciently known as the cryptic 
rites and beliefs. Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone; but in Norway a certain 
seaman who saw things is dead. IVIight not the deeper inquiries of my uncle after 
encountering the sculptor's data have come to sinister ears? I think Professor Angell died 
because he knew too much, or because he was likely to learn too much. Whether I shall go 
as he did remains to be seen, for I have learned much now. 

III. The Madness from the Sea. 

If heaven ever wishes to grant me a boon, it will be a total effacing of the results of a mere 
chance which fixed my eye on a certain stray piece of shelf-paper. It was nothing on which I 
would naturally have stumbled in the course of my daily round, for it was an old number of an 
Australian journal, the Sydney Bulletin ior AprW 18, 1925. It had escaped even the cutting 
bureau which had at the time of its issuance been avidly collecting material for my uncle's 

I had largely given over my inquiries into what Professor Angell called the "Cthulhu Cult", and 
was visiting a learned friend in Paterson, New Jersey; the curator of a local museum and a 
mineralogist of note. Examining one day the reserve specimens roughly set on the storage 
shelves in a rear room of the museum, my eye was caught by an odd picture in one of the old 
papers spread beneath the stones. It was the Sydney Bulletin I have mentioned, for my friend 
has wide affiliations in all conceivable foreign parts; and the picture was a half-tone cut of a 
hideous stone image almost identical with that which Legrasse had found in the swamp. 

Eagerly clearing the sheet of its precious contents, I scanned the item in detail; and was 
disappointed to find it of only moderate length. What it suggested, however, was of portentous 
significance to my flagging quest; and I carefully tore it out for immediate action. It read as 

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA. Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New 

Zealand Yacht in Tow. One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of 
Desperate Battle and Deaths at Sea. Rescued Seaman Refuses Particulars of 
Strange Experience. Odd Idol Found in His Possession. Inquiry to Follow. 

The Morrison Co.'s freighter Vigilant, bound from Valparaiso, arrived this morning at its wharf 
in Darling Harbour, having in tow the battled and disabled but heavily armed steam yacht Alert 
of Dunedin, N. Z., which was sighted April 12th in S. Latitude 34°21', W. Longitude 152° 17' 
with one living and one dead man aboard. 

The Vigilant left Valparaiso March 25th, and on April 2nd was driven considerably south of her 
course by exceptionally heavy storms and monster waves. On April 12th the derelict was 
sighted; and though apparently deserted, was found upon boarding to contain one survivor in 
a half-delirious condition and one man who had evidently been dead for more than a week. 
The living man was clutching a horrible stone idol of unknown origin, about a foot in height, 
regarding whose nature authorities at Sydney University, the Royal Society, and the Museum 
in College Street all profess complete bafflement, and which the survivor says he found in the 
cabin of the yacht, in a small carved shrine of common pattern. 

This man, after recovering his senses, told an exceedingly strange story of piracy and 
slaughter. He is Gustaf Johansen, a Norwegian of some intelligence, and had been second 
mate of the two-masted schooner Emma of Auckland, which sailed for Callao February 20th 
with a complement of eleven men. The Emma, he says, was delayed and thrown widely south 
of her course by the great storm of March 1st, and on March 22nd, in S. Latitude 49° 51', W. 
Longitude 128° 34', encountered the Alert, manned by a queer and evil-looking crew of 
Kanakas and half-castes. Being ordered peremptorily to turn back, Capt. Collins refused; 
whereupon the strange crew began to fire savagely and without warning upon the schooner 
with a peculiarly heavy battery of brass cannon forming part of the yacht's equipment. The 
Emma's men shewed fight, says the survivor, and though the schooner began to sink from 
shots beneath the waterline they managed to heave alongside their enemy and board her, 
grappling with the savage crew on the yacht's deck, and being forced to kill them all, the 
number being slightly superior, because of their particularly abhorrent and desperate though 
rather clumsy mode of fighting. 

Three of the Emma's men, including Capt. Collins and First Mate Green, were killed; and the 
remaining eight under Second Mate Johansen proceeded to navigate the captured yacht, 
going ahead in their original direction to see if any reason for their ordering back had existed. 
The next day, it appears, they raised and landed on a small island, although none is known to 
exist in that part of the ocean; and six of the men somehow died ashore, though Johansen is 
queerly reticent about this part of his story, and speaks only of their falling into a rock chasm. 
Later, it seems, he and one companion boarded the yacht and tried to manage her, but were 
beaten about by the storm of April 2nd. From that time till his rescue on the 12th the man 
remembers little, and he does not even recall when William Briden, his companion, died. 
Briden's death reveals no apparent cause, and was probably due to excitement or exposure. 
Cable advices from Dunedin report that the Alert was well known there as an island trader, 
and bore an evil reputation along the waterfront. It was owned by a curious group of half- 
castes whose frequent meetings and night trips to the woods attracted no little curiosity; and it 
had set sail in great haste just after the storm and earth tremors of March 1st. Our Auckland 
correspondent gives the Emma and her crew an excellent reputation, and Johansen is 
described as a sober and worthy man. The admiralty will institute an inquiry on the whole 

matter beginning tomorrow, at wliicli every effort will be made to induce Johansen to speak 
more freely than he has done hitherto. 

This was all, together with the picture of the hellish image; but what a train of ideas it started 
in my mind! Here were new treasuries of data on the Cthulhu Cult, and evidence that it had 
strange interests at sea as well as on land. What motive prompted the hybrid crew to order 
back the Emma as they sailed about with their hideous idol? What was the unknown island on 
which six of the Emma's crew had died, and about which the mate Johansen was so 
secretive? What had the vice-admiralty's investigation brought out, and what was known of 
the noxious cult in Dunedin? And most marvellous of all, what deep and more than natural 
linkage of dates was this which gave a malign and now undeniable significance to the various 
turns of events so carefully noted by my uncle? 

March 1st — our February 28th according to the International Date Line — the earthquake and 
storm had come. From Dunedin the Alert and her noisome crew had darted eagerly forth as if 
imperiously summoned, and on the other side of the earth poets and artists had begun to 
dream of a strange, dank Cyclopean city whilst a young sculptor had moulded in his sleep the 
form of the dreaded Cthulhu. March 23d the crew of the Emma landed on an unknown island 
and left six men dead; and on that date the dreams of sensitive men assumed a heightened 
vividness and darkened with dread of a giant monster's malign pursuit, whilst an architect had 
gone mad and a sculptor had lapsed suddenly into delirium! And what of this storm of April 
2nd — the date on which all dreams of the dank city ceased, and Wilcox emerged unharmed 
from the bondage of strange fever? What of all this — and of those hints of old Castro about 
the sunken, star-born Old Ones and their coming reign; their faithful cult and their mastery of 
dreams? \Nas I tottering on the brink of cosmic horrors beyond man's power to bear? If so, 
they must be horrors of the mind alone, for in some way the second of April had put a stop to 
whatever monstrous menace had begun its siege of mankind's soul. 

That evening, after a day of hurried cabling and arranging, I bade my host adieu and took a 
train for San Francisco. In less than a month I was In Dunedin; where, however, I found that 
little was known of the strange cult-members who had lingered In the old sea-taverns. 
Waterfront scum was far too common for special mention; though there was vague talk about 
one inland trip these mongrels had made, during which faint drumming and red flame were 
noted on the distant hills. In Auckland I learned that Johansen had returned with yellow hair 
turned white after a perfunctory and Inconclusive questioning at Sydney, and had thereafter 
sold his cottage In West Street and sailed with his wife to his old home in Oslo. Of his stirring 
experience he would tell his friends no more than he had told the admiralty officials, and all 
they could do was to give me his Oslo address. 

After that I went to Sydney and talked prof itiessly with seamen and members of the vice- 
admiralty court. I saw the Alert, now sold and in commercial use, at Circular Quay in Sydney 
Cove, but gained nothing from its non-committal bulk. The crouching image with its cuttlefish 
head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at 
Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, 
and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of material 
which ! had noted in Legrasse's smaller specimen. Geologists, the curator told me, had found 
it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like It. Then I thought with a 
shudder of what old Castro had told Legrasse about the primal Great Ones: "They had come 
from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them." 

Shaken with such a mental revolution as I had never before known, I now resolved to visit 
Mate Johansen in Oslo. Sailing for London, I reembarked at once for the Norwegian capital; 

and one autumn day landed at the trim wharves in the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen's 
address, I discovered, lay in the Old Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept alive the 
name of Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as "Christiana". I 
made the brief trip by taxicab, and knocked with palpitant heart at the door of a neat and 
ancient building with plastered front. A sad-faced woman in black answered my summons, 
and I was stung with disappointment when she told me in halting English that Gustaf 
Johansen was no more. 

He had not survived his return, said his wife, for the doings at sea in 1925 had broken him. He 
had told her no more than he had told the public, but had left a long manuscript — of "technical 
matters" as he said — written in English, evidently in order to safeguard her from the peril of 
casual perusal. During a walk through a narrow lane near the Gothenburg dock, a bundle of 
papers falling from an attic window had knocked him down. Two Lascar sailors at once helped 
him to his feet, but before the ambulance could reach him he was dead. Physicians found no 
adequate cause for the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened constitution. 

I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never leave me till I, too, am at rest; 
"accidentally" or otherwise. Persuading the widow that my connexion with her husband's 
"technical matters" was sufficient to entitle me to his manuscript, I bore the document away 
and began to read it on the London boat. It was a simple, rambling thing — a naive sailor's 
effort at a post-facto diary — and strove to recall day by day that last awful voyage. I cannot 
attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist 
enough to shew why the sound of the water against the vessel's sides became so 
unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton. 

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I 
shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in 
time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream 
beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them on 
the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the 
sun and air. 

Johansen's voyage had begun just as he told it to the vice-admiralty. The Emma, in ballast, 
had cleared Auckland on February 20th, and had felt the full force of that earthquake-born 
tempest which must have heaved up from the sea-bottom the horrors that filled men's 
dreams. Once more under control, the ship was making good progress when held up by the 
Alert on March 22nd, and 1 could feel the mate's regret as he wrote of her bombardment and 
sinking. Of the swarthy cult-fiends on the Alert he speaks with significant horror. There was 
some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destruction seem almost a 
duty, and Johansen shews ingenuous wonder at the charge of ruthlessness brought against 
his party during the proceedings of the court of inquiry. Then, driven ahead by curiosity in their 
captured yacht under Johansen's command, the men sight a great stone pillar sticking out of 
the sea, and in S. Latitude 47° 9', W. Longitude 126° 43' come upon a coast-line of mingled 
mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible 
substance of earth's supreme terror — the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh, that was built in 
measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the 
dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults and sending 
out at last, after cycles incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreams of the 
sensitive and called imperiously to the faithful to come on a pilgrimage of liberation and 
restoration. All this Johansen did not suspect, but God knows he soon saw enough! 

I suppose that only a single mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadel whereon 
great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters. When I think of the extent oi all 
that may be brooding down there I almost wish to kill myself forthwith. Johansen and his men 
were awed by the cosmic majesty of this dripping Babylon of elder daemons, and must have 
guessed without guidance that it was nothing of this or of any sane planet. Awe at the 
unbelievable size of the greenish stone blocks, at the dizzying height of the great carven 
monolith, and at the stupefying identity of the colossal statues and bas-reliefs with the queer 
image found in the shrine on the Alert, is poignantly visible in every line of the mate's 
frightened description. 

Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close to it when he 
spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on 
broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces — surfaces too great to belong to any 
thing right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I 
mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful 
dreams. He had said that the geometry the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non- 
Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. Now an 
unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality. 

Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous Acropolis, and 
clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which could have been no mortal staircase. The 
very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling out 
from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those 
crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first 
shewed convexity. 

Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before anything more definite than 
rock and ooze and weed was seen. Each would have fled had he not feared the scorn of the 
others, and it was only half-heartedly that they searched — vainly, as it proved — for some 
portable souvenir to bear away. 

It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the monolith and shouted of what 
he had found. The rest followed him, and looked curiously at the immense carved door with 
the now familiar squid-dragon bas-relief. It was, Johansen said, like a great barn-door; and 
they all felt that it was a door because of the ornate lintel, threshold, and jambs around it, 
though they could not decide whether it lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise like an outside 
cellar-door. As Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One could 
not be sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position of 
everything else seemed phantasmally variable. 

Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result. Then Donovan felt over it 
delicately around the edge, pressing each point separately as he went. He climbed 
interminably along the grotesque stone moulding — that is, one would call it climbing if the 
thing was not after all horizontal — and the men wondered how any door in the universe could 
be so vast. Then, very softly and slowly, the acre-great panel began to give inward at the top; 
and they saw that it was balanced. Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along 
the jamb and rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession of the 
monstrously carven portal. In this phantasy of prismatic distortion it moved anomalously in a 
diagonal way, so that all the rules of matter and perspective seemed upset. 

The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That tenebrousness was indeed a 
positive quality; for it obscured such parts of the inner walls as ought to have been revealed. 

and actually burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment, visibly darkening the sun 
as it slunk away into the shrunken and gibbous sky on flapping membraneous wings. The 
odour arising from the newly opened depths was intolerable, and at length the quick-eared 
Hawkins thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and 
everyone was listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed 
Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doonway into the tainted outside air of that 
poison city of madness. 

Poor Johansen's handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this. Of the six men who 
never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that accursed instant. The 
Thing cannot be described — there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and 
immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order. A 
mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect went 
mad, and poor Wilcox raved with fever in that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, the 
green, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, 
and what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by 
accident. After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight. 

Three men were swept up by the flabby claws before anybody turned. God rest them, if there 
be any rest in the universe. They were Donovan, Guerrera, and Angstrom. Parker slipped as 
the other three were plunging frenziedly over endless vistas of green-crusted rock to the boat, 
and Johansen swears he was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn't have 
been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse. So only Briden and 
Johansen reached the boat, and pulled desperately for the Alert as the mountainous 
monstrosity flopped down the slimy stones and hesitated floundering at the edge of the water. 

Steam had not been suffered to go down entirely, despite the departure of all hands for the 
shore; and it was the work of only a few moments of feverish rushing up and down between 
wheel and engines to get the Alert under way. Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that 
indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry of that 
charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibbered like 
Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great 
Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokes of 
cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughing at 
intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously. 

But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtake the Alert 
until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting the engine for full 
speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mighty eddying and 
foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the brave 
Norwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean 
froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came 
nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a 
bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of 
a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler would not put on paper. For an 
instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a 
venomous seething astern; where — God in heaven! — the scattered plasticity of that nameless 
sky-spawn was nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened 
every second as the >A/e/t gained impetus from its mounting steam. 

That was all. After that Johansen only brooded over the idol in the cabin and attended to a 
few matters of food for himself and the laughing maniac by his side. He did not try to navigate 

after the first bold flight, for the reaction had taken something out of his soul. Then came the 
storm of April 2nd, and a gathering of the clouds about his consciousness. There is a sense of 
spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides through reeling universes on a 
comet's tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moon and from the moon back again 
to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of the distorted, hilarious elder gods and the 
green, bat-winged mocking imps of Tartarus. 

Out of that dream came rescue — ^the Vigilant, the vice-admiralty court, the streets of Dunedin, 
and the long voyage back home to the old house by the Egeberg. He could not tell — they 
would think him mad. He would write of what he knew before death came, but his wife must 
not guess. Death would be a boon if only it could blot out the memories. 

That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box beside the bas-relief 
and the papers of Professor Angell. With it shall go this record of mine — this test of my own 
sanity, wherein is pieced together that which I hope may never be pieced together again. I 
have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and 
the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think my life will be 
long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult 
still lives. 

Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since 
the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for the Vigilant saWed over the 
spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around 
idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst 
within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. 
Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness 
waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will 
come — but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, 
my executors may put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye. 

Return to Table of Contents 

Pickman's Model 


You needn't think I'm crazy, Eliot — plenty of others have queerer prejudices than this. Why 
don't you laugh at Oliver's grandfather, who won't ride in a motor? If I don't like that damned 
subway, it's my own business; and we got here more quickly anyhow in the taxi. We'd have 
had to walk up the hill from Park Street if we'd taken the car. 

I know I'm more nervous than I was when you saw me last year, but you don't need to hold a 
clinic over it. There's plenty of reason, God knows, and I fancy I'm lucky to be sane at all. Why 
the third degree? You didn't use to be so inquisitive. 

Well, if you must hear it, I don't know why you shouldn't. Maybe you ought to, anyhow, for you 
kept writing me like a grieved parent when you heard I'd begun to cut the Art Club and keep 
away from Pickman. Now that he's disappeared I go around to the club once in a while, but 
my nerves aren't what they were. 

No, I don't know what's become of Pickman, and I don't like to guess. You might have 
surmised I had some inside information when I dropped him — and that's why I don't want to 
think where he's gone. Let the police find what they can — it won't be much, judging from the 
fact that they don't know yet of the old North End place he hired under the name of Peters. 
I'm not sure that I could find it again myself — not that I'd ever try, even in broad daylight! Yes, I 
do know, or am afraid I know, why he maintained it. I'm coming to that. And I think you'll 
understand before I'm through why I don't tell the police. They would ask me to guide them, 
but I couldn't go back there even if I knew the way. There was something there — and now I 
can't use the subway or (and you may as well have your laugh at this, too) go down into 
cellars any more. 

I should think you'd have known I didn't drop Pickman for the same silly reasons that fussy 
old women like Dr. Reid or Joe Minot or Bosworth did. Morbid art doesn't shock me, and when 
a man has the genius Pickman had I feel it an honour to know him, no matter what direction 
his work takes. Boston never had a greater painter than Richard Upton Pickman. I said it at 
first and I say it still, and I never swerved an inch, either, when he shewed that "Ghoul 
Feeding". That, you remember, was when Minot cut him. 

You know, it takes profound art and profound insight into Nature to turn out stuff like 
Pickman's. Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare or 
a Witches' Sabbath or a portrait of the devil, but only a great painter can make such a thing 
really scare or ring true. That's because only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the 
terrible or the physiology of fear — the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with 
latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting 
effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. I don't have to tell you why a Fuseli really 
brings a shiver while a cheap ghost-story frontispiece merely makes us laugh. There's 
something those fellows catch — beyond life — that they're able to make us catch for a second. 
Dore had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. And Pickman had it as no man ever had 
it before or — I hope to heaven — ever will again. 

Don't ask me what it is they see. You know, in ordinary art, there's all the difference in the 
world between the vital, breathing things drawn from Nature or models and the artificial truck 
that commercial small fry reel off in a bare studio by rule. Well, I should say that the really 
weird artist has a kind of vision which makes models, or summons up what amounts to actual 

scenes from the spectral world he lives in. Anyhow, he manages to turn out results that differ 
from the pretender's mince-pie dreams in just about the same way that the life painter's 
results differ from the concoctions of a correspondence-school cartoonist. If I had ever seen 
what Pickman saw — but no! Here, let's have a drink before we get any deeper. Gad, I 
wouldn't be alive if I'd ever seen what that man — if he was a man — saw! 

You recall that Pickman's forte was faces. I don't believe anybody since Goya could put so 
much of sheer hell into a set of features or a twist of expression. And before Goya you have to 
go back to the mediaeval chaps who did the gargoyles and chimaeras on Notre Dame and 
IViont Saint-IVIichel. They believed all sorts of things — and maybe they saw all sorts of things, 
too, for the IVIiddle Ages had some curious phases. I remember your asking Pickman yourself 
once, the year before you went away, wherever in thunder he got such ideas and visions. 
Wasn't that a nasty laugh he gave you? It was partly because of that laugh that Reid dropped 
him. Reld, you know, had just taken up comparative pathology, and was full of pompous 
"inside stuff" about the biological or evolutionary significance of this or that mental or physical 
symptom. He said Pickman repelled him more and more every day, and almost frightened him 
toward the last — that the fellow's features and expression were slowly developing in a way he 
didn't like; in a way that wasn't human. He had a lot of talk about diet, and said Pickman must 
be abnormal and eccentric to the last degree. I suppose you told Reid, if you and he had any 
correspondence over it, that he'd let Pickman's paintings get on his nerves or harrow up his 
imagination. I know I told him that myself — then. 

But keep in mind that I didn't drop Pickman for anything like this. On the contrary, my 
admiration for him kept growing; for that "Ghoul Feeding" was a tremendous achievement. As 
you know, the club wouldn't exhibit it, and the Museum of Fine Arts wouldn't accept it as a gift; 
and I can add that nobody would buy it, so Pickman had it right in his house till he went. Now 
his father has it in Salem — you know Pickman comes of old Salem stock, and had a witch 
ancestor hanged in 1 692. 

I got into the habit of calling on Pickman quite often, especially after I began making notes for 
a monograph on weird art. Probably It was his work which put the Idea Into my head, and 
anyhow, I found him a mine of data and suggestions when I came to develop it. He shewed 
me all the paintings and drawings he had about; including some pen-and-ink sketches that 
would, I verily believe, have got him kicked out of the club if many of the members had seen 
them. Before long I was pretty nearly a devotee, and would listen for hours like a schoolboy to 
art theories and philosophic speculations wild enough to qualify him for the Danvers asylum. 
My hero-worship, coupled with the fact that people generally were commencing to have less 
and less to do with him, made him get very confidential with me; and one evening he hinted 
that if I were fairly close-mouthed and none too squeamish, he might shew me something 
rather unusual — something a bit stronger than anything he had in the house. 

"You know," he said, "there are things that won't do for Newbury Street — things that are out of 
place here, and that can't be conceived here, anyhow. It's my business to catch the overtones 
of the soul, and you won't find those in a parvenu set of artificial streets on made land. Back 
Bay isn't Boston — it isn't anything yet, because it's had no time to pick up memories and 
attract local spirits. If there are any ghosts here, they're the tame ghosts of a salt marsh and a 
shallow cove; and I w